Courtesy of the artist
When Hella's "Headless" thunders, you're more likely to find yourself banging your head than scratching your chin.
When Hella's "Headless" thunders, you're more likely to find yourself banging your head than scratching your chin. Courtesy of the artist
Hella's Zach Hill and Spencer Seim don't just color outside the lines of rock 'n' roll — they scrawl all over the page, across the tabletop and into the next room. Depending on your perspective, the result is either a dazzlingly unruly abstraction or an unholy mess.
The Sacramento instrumental duo has basically one setting, and it's full-speed-ahead sensory overload. Hill's polyrhythmic drum assault and Seim's jittery, Beefheart-by-way-of-Bad Brains guitar parts volley and tangle frenetically, battling to occupy every square inch of sonic real estate. Needless to say, it's not easy listening, but with a little patience, unsnarling the duo's dueling lines can yield exhilarating rewards.
"Headless," the first single from the upcoming Tripper, has been greeted as a welcome return to form for the band after a short-lived flirtation with conventional rock on 2007's There's No 666 in Outer Space. Stripping their sound back down to the basics, Hill and Seim sound leaner and more forceful than ever before.
After almost a decade of wild experimentation, they've learned how to rein things in — to give listeners a little room to breathe, and their undeniable chops room to jell into something truly compelling. By the time "Headless" thunders, stutters and shudders its way into Seim's triumphantly ascendant hook, you're more likely to find yourself banging your head than scratching your chin.