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Hella: Chirpin' Hard/Church Gone Wild

 
Proving that one man's noise can be another man's mission, Sacramento, California's HELLA has put out a two CD set featuring the guitarist, Spencer Seim, on one (Chirpin' Hard) and the drummer, Zach Hill, on the other (Church Gone Wild) working their hearts out but - just like with Outkast's 2002 effort, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - it's an uneven effort that, mostly, ends up pointing out the limitations of Hella's band members. Both CDs attain a certain majesty, as each of these oddball, yet singular, visions are given full, expansive, expression over 80mb of disk space but, what they really come down to, is a contest between which one of these equally anal people could be the more obnoxious.

Zach Hill's Church Gone Wild is 59 minutes of getting "punched in the back of the head", divided into 12 movements, each one striving to be,... oh, I don't know,... louder than the next. Right from the start, Zack raises a busted-piston racket with his drum kit, while somebody's yelling and a bunch of found sounds appear, along with the world's angriest guitar and his friend, the plunky-assed foster home piano, and even the Mt. St. Mary's Church Choir of Grass Valley, California, zip in and out, while some lost soul mumbles stuff like, "We wuz boys, livin' in a dead ass German Shepard", or words to that effect. No, really.

Spencer Seim's CD is more successful but, then, it's also more conventional in it's approach. Starting off like a low budget Add N to (X) album, Chirpin' Hard shows promise, with it's twelve songs of new wave avant-punk jazz ideas, confirming that Seims can, at least, get his sonic act together enough to carry something off by himself. "Dad For Song" (Track 7) and, almost, all the tracks that follow start to get a, kinda cool, late 80's No Wave thing going.

With it's bizzare cover art (of Zach Hill being scalped) Chirpin' Hard and Church Gone Wild are begging not to be taken lightly, as some kind of lost Zappa clones - and they aren't - but they, also, aren't always the easiest listen either. And, I'd imagine, that's whether they're playing together or apart.

Good luck with this one,

CMC
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