If you, like me, have encountered a good many examples of what I suppose can loosely be called “neopsychedelia,” to listen to a minute or so of White Hills on top of all that begs a question about the genre. Can anything be added to this somewhat reinvented genre that hasn’t been added on already without completely distorting its ancestry, and if so, what? The ensuing minutes — and there are many — of White Hills’ self-titled album may well provide the closest thing to an answer. Though it may not be a conclusive one, it is nonetheless one that may point in that general direction. Whatever the case it might not be the answer fans of the genre would be interested in hearing, though then again maybe they will.
One can admire White Hills outright for being able to create the type of sound and song arrangement that they clearly have an abiding love for. This album, crafted with considerable crispness and detail, is by no means an agitating listen in the entirely wrong sense. White Hills’ palate veers at will from distorted, fevered pop (“Dead”) to sprawling jams (“Let the Right One In”) to overwhelming ambient noise (“Glacial”), all of it done passionately, fluidly and without an iota of forced ideas. Like any good band steeped in the American acid haze, they hardly shirk from crafting brash guitar riffs that are at once distorted into some variation of fuzz/muff and comprehendable; nor are they squeamish about their repetition which, again like any other psychadelic band, they make good use of. Riffs, such as those on the closing track “Polvere Di Stelle,” can drone on and on, but its that transcendent type of drone that, while nauseating the meak-eared, will envelope the listener in just the type of red-lighted dread that they quite possibly envisioned whilst writing the piece. In the great wall of noise, White Hills are not worse masons and architects than anyone else.
All that said, does that make White Hills stand out from the rest of the bands like them, such as The Black Angels or The Warlocks or The Brian Jonestown Massacre or All The Saints? No. All those bands had the abrasive distortion and doom and gloom relatively covered. Casual listeners will find it a challenge to distinguish White Hills from all the others. This is not to say, of course, that this will always be the case. Much in the same way that The Black Angels can be a desert Nico-era Velvet Underground at their best and All The Saints can create a kind of punk intensity at their best, White Hills have it in themselves to achieve a similar apex. Of all their loves, their love of doom is most intruiging and should be encouraged. Underneath their finely honed composition and effects pedals lies a sense of foreboding that is worth expanding upon, if it is within them of course. To my knowledge their are few bands like White Hills carrying the torch of Sunn O))), at least not to the point that their efforts would be on par with Sunn O))). I’m just putting it out there.