From the Basement: Hilt
From The Basement #11
Hilt/Journey to the Center of the Bowl
I can't explain it, but I've had quite the hankering for early 90s industrial music recently. Nostalgia from my youth? That whole hip electro movement? I dunno. But whatever it is, Hilt's album "Journey to the Center of the Bowl" sure soothed my troubled soul.
The Skinny Puppy comparisons are inevitable, as Cevin Key and Dwayne Goettel's involvement in both projects results in a very similar sound. But really now, is that so terrible? Both bands use quite a few of the same sounds, but I feel like Hilt utilizes a bit more live instrumentation, or at least sampled live instruments. There's much more of a 'band' feeling to Hilt that Skinny Puppy lacks. And then there's vocalist Alan Nelson, who upon taking the role that would normally be occupied by Ogre with the rest of the SP duo, does something completely his own. Whereas most industrial singers seem content with barking out proclamations and relying on rhythm, Nelson is much more melodic and even not above singing love songs. Listen to "Superhoney" and "Crazy for You" and see what I mean. It could not be any further from contemporaries of the genre like Ministry, Front 242 and Frontline Assembly. Of course, I've always felt that SP was light-years ahead of those guys anyhow.
What really strikes me about "Journey to..." is its flow. It truly is an album that is meant to be listened to from start to finish, without any sort of interruption. The tracks all flow right into each other in a way that shuffle-mode would never do justice. Every moment is well thought out and conceived so that each moment works towards the greater whole, rather than as separate parts or singles. And it's a real headphone trip, too. Don't think that the title was lost on me, even as a youngun'. I knew what was up even though I was only 13 when this record was released. If it's one thing that industrial music excelled at in this time period, it was awesome ear candy that no one else was doing. From psychedelic, noisy and even pop movements, right into heavier fare such as "Real Cool Rain" and "Loudmouth Canyon", everything still manages to sound totally cohesive as the moods twist and turn again and again. It's really amazing how much territory they seem to cover.
Is it time for Hilt to be retro cool yet? Probably not. Will it ever be? It's the next big thing, I swear! So yeah, strap on those 'phones, hit play and enjoy the ride. Remember: you heard it from me first.
- Avi Roig | 2003-09-05
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