White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat album review

Big Apple experimentalists take a walk on the dark psych

White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat album artwork

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Wherein Brooklyn ‘duo’ White Hills wilfully pitch themselves yet deeper into the heart of darkness. Obviously, there’s always been a side order of sinister served alongside everything from them thar Hills, but whereas 2015’s Walks For Motorists boasted a Krispy Kreme production job from David Wrench, Stop Mute Defeat sees a prevailing MO muddied ever more avant-gardewards by a band in obvious thrall to NYC art rock tradition.

And we use the word muddied advisedly here, as guitaring vocalist Dave W and vocalising bassist Ego Sensation have recruited ex-Sonic Youth/Eno producer Martin Bisi to bring a little of the no-wave dissonance of TriBeCa’s late, lamented Mudd Club to the mix. The Burroughs-esque cut-up audio of the rhythm loops only serves to accentuate the underlying harshness of a double-barrelled vocal assault that persistently nags into the psyche; there’s vintage Cabs here, a fetid whiff of TG. All regular means of melodious seduction are set aside in favour of the sound of disturbance, as an industrial edge renders White Hills singular psychedelia monochrome, monotone, monolithic. Speaking paradoxically, an assured step deeper underground that only ever sounds like a step upward.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.