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Hills – Frid

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Hills - FridIt’s the shortest day of the year and HillsFrid album is bringing some summer warmth on a midwinter’s day — blasting, beautiful, fuzzed-out freak beat psychedelia from Gothenburg’s finest.

“Kollektiv” is like a slab of 1969 all rolled up in a glorious joint of mellow psychedelic madness. From its fuzzed out opening to its sitar-laden exit, this is the kind of music that The Freak Bothers would have had singing from their stereo. It so perfectly captures a certain era music that its coloured layers now seem out of time and space. There’s a slice of Blue Cheer mixed with the lightness of Tomorrow from ’67, and it’s time to get the joss sticks going.

“National Drone” builds like the beginning of “The End” by The Doors, with a mystical, otherworldly edge, like a boat ride down the Ganges as its rhythmic base carries the tune forward over sitar drone and the guitar interplay. When the vocals hit in, they are so swathed in echo it sounds like they are singing to infinity, a hymn to the other worlds floating through space, a raga to the holy men who see all things as being infinite. And then the majestic lead guitar hits in and you are transported skyward.

“Anukthal Is Here” starts as a thoughtful meditation, with its swirling synth sound and its echoed desert guitar. Again the rhythm of bongos and cymbals underpin the track. The vocals sound almost chanted as they slip in through a wall of echo and are then blasted into outer space. The drums kick in properly and the fuzz gets stamped on the guitar and we are off on a voyage to the innermost reaches of your mind. “Milarepa” I assume is named after the Buddhist holy man; it’s a heavy slice of fuzzed riff over a strong pulsing beat. When the flute comes in it takes the track to a different dimension and suddenly you are sitting among the mountains of Nepal with flags blowing in the breeze from a temple.

“Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd” is the longest track on the album and starts with a motorik beat over which echoed guitar keeps a rhythmic riff as lead dances around over the top. Again the vocals chant a low intonation, sounding like a voice of instruction to expand your mind and take you further and faster out there. Here the band begins to remind me slightly of Älgarnas Trädgård as the track slowly unfurls, keeping its blissful feel throughout. At one point they almost wander into Yes territory as the guitar plays a Steve Howe-like raga fugue, which is gobsmackingly marvellous. “Death Will Find A Way” closes the album with a mirage of backwards guitars over a raga beats and its finger cymbals, handclaps and a heady dose of pure psychedelia take you back in time. The vocal reminds me of Shiva Jones from Quintessence — in fact with this track the band get as close as possible to the band’s 1969 classic “In Blissful Company”.

The album is an amazing thing; my only criticism is that it feels too short — but then it follows the classic vinyl length of being under 20 minutes per side. It is a beautiful ride to a mystic land of many colours, and one that’s well worth investing your time in.

-Gary Parsons-

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