Published Apr 09, 2015For a band that have cut their teeth over the past decade on relentless guitar riffage and Hawkwindian space rock, Walk For Motorists, the new album from ever-prolific Brooklyn heavy psych outfit White Hills, is surprisingly pared down. That's not to say there aren't moments that will make you question whether some LSD found its way into in your coffee this morning, or that there's a lack of high-flying, wah-heavy guitar acrobatics; they're just more penetrable this time around.
In Motorists, White Hills have created a more eclectic, progressive record that eschews some of the thunder of heavy psych and leans toward synth driven neo-Kraut grooves as much as fuzzed-out space rock. Riffs ring out in howling, expansive noisescapes a la the Velvet Underground ("Lead The Way") more so than caterwauling squalls, while rhythmic based numbers that recall the motorik tribal grooves of Amon Duul II ("I, Nomad") and the gothic chants of Psychic TV ("Automated City") act as welcome departures between the album's sludgy anthems ("No Will," "Wanderlust," "We Are What You Are"). Though these latter songs approximate the sound that White Hills fans have come to know, they're far more minimal and exposed. There are even a few guitarless tracks.
It's difficult to avoid self-parody when you're mining a genre that largely defines itself by tacky sonic flourishes, but somehow White Hills have continued to do just that. Guided by the unfaltering focus and integrity of the group's core members, guitarist Dave W and bassist Ego Sensation, Motorists is pure vision in sound, never falling victim to indulgence: every note and texture has purpose; every build takes you somewhere. It could be said that the space rock label fails to do justice to a band with such a broad sonic palette, but considering the vast expanse of the cosmos, perhaps it's perfectly suited after all. (Thrill Jockey)