White Hills – Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey Records)
LP / CD / DL
7.5 / 10
There’s always sense of anticipation on these pages at the news of a new album from Dave W and Ego Sensation. Their blend of Stooges, Alice Cooper and gritty psychedelia provides a listenable balance between heavy and kraut rocks.
On Stop Mute Defeat, White Hills delve further into the dystopian electronic sound with hints of Cabaret Voltaire circa Red Mecca amid sprawling soundscapes of guitar and emphatic percussion sounds. Dave W is as slurred as ever and his word execution is delightful. Album opener, Overlord is a slowburning affair which spreads itself over seven minutes in a soundtrack type piece with a horror movie feel, sirens and soundbytes encouraging us to “defy the law”. It’s a brave choice for an album start but probably what you’d expect from the American duo.
It is on tracks like Importance 101 when White Hills truly shine. A creepy, scary track with an accompanying video equally as churning. “Don’t rely on counting sheep” is the plea, and having heard the track, a sense of foreboding doom and terror pervades. If…1….2 sees experimenting of a more electronic sound from the late 70s and early 80s – broken voices and occasional bleeps over a throbbing bassline and some delightful reverb. The track acts as a sound collage and proves the ability to be able to produce something less conventional.
The title track would please Primal Scream fans in their droves as their characteristic bass driven trademark from past glories such as White Heat and XTRMNTR as a continual electro beat once more gives a semi-instrumental buzz.
Mixed by Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth, Afrika Bambaataa, Eno), Stop Mute Defeat often has a clinical sound with rough edgy shards seemingly protruding from every angle. His touch adds an almost three dimensional sound to the album and an anthemic quality particularly on Attack Mode with its wailing and weeping guitars chugging away in the background.
The album is far more than experimental rock. It shows a band always willing to take risks but at the same time making calculated ones and albums diverse enough to appeal to genres which aren’t always necessarily adjacent. Stop Mute Defeat is as good a place as any to start for the White Hills newcomer – it’s dark, moody and lively in varying amounts and will guarantee several plays in straight succession. Be impressed.