Hella - Homeboy EP / Concentration Face DVD
Release Date: November 8, 2005
Record Label: 5 Rue Christine
Quite honestly, this shitís weird. Itís not that Iím totally unfamiliar with the NorCal (I feel lame saying that) instrumental spazz-rock duoóa good friend of mine had introduced me to Hella back in 2002 when they released Hold Your Horse Is, and I thought there were some pretty cool songs here and there, but I wasnít really blown away or anything. Seriously though, this new stuff is just ridiculously weird. Perhaps Iím not supposed to ďunderstandĒ it, being the pop rock reviewer I am, and if thatís the case, then so be it; itís not my thing. Maybe thatís exactly what the band wants people such as myself, an emo webzine writer, to say. Oh well. I truly did enjoy a few songs on Hold Your Horse Is, namely ďBiblical Violence,Ē "Republic of Rough and Ready," and ď1-800-GHOST-DANCE,Ē but I just can't get into any of the 4 songs on this EP (two of the tracks clock in at over eleven minutes, for Satanís sake!). The bandís last album, Church Gone Wild / Chirpiní Hard, a double CD, much like Outkastís Speakerboxxx / The Love Below where each member claimed their own disc, saw the band getting a little weirder, so I suppose the Homeboy EP is just the next natural step in the evolution of the band, but I think they may have evolved just a little too much. I'm still human; seems these guys aren't.
For those who havenít heard Hella, one word shall suffice: spazztasticandsomewhatcacophonous. The band is ridiculous. Zach Hillís drumming is as confounding as ever on the EP, never relenting, and never easy to understandóitís almost like each song is just one huge fill. I donít think Iíve ever heard a drummer with such stamina, and maybe more impressive than the utter speed and randomness with which he plays is the fact that he actually knows what heís doing. I just canít wrap my mind around it. To be honest, I didnít really listen to Church Gone Wild / Chirpiní Hard all that much because it was pretty fucking weird itself, so I donít know what Spencer Seimís guitar playing was like on that, but his chaotic, almost noisy, tech-jazz, clean guitars are still here sometimes, although it seems heís been messing around with some effects. Another thing that I noticed is different from Hold Your Horse Is and the band's 2004 release, The Devil Isn't Red, is that the band is actually layering things now, such as electronics, jarring pianos, and synths, whereas they used to just be a straight up guitar and drums duo, no frills attached. I think I enjoyed it much more that way, as things seem to be a bit cluttered now. Anyways, Iím not going to try to explain the musicóI simply canít. Iím incompetent, I suppose. Iíd like to talk with the band some day and just ask whatís going through their minds when they write this music, and what they hope to convey through it. I just donít get it. Nevertheless, the musicianship is stunning; the fact is indisputable.
Along with the EP came a live DVD titled Concentration Face, which is an assemblage of various Hella performances, most of which come from their recent Japanese tour. Iíd always been told by friends and people Iíd met that Hella is a band you need to see live to understand and appreciate. Well, after watching the DVD, I still donít understand the band, but what I do know is that the bandís technicality is just incredible. Watching Stephen Hillís lanky body hovering over his tiny drumkit, his hands moving at supersonic speeds, is really, really fun to watchóalmost mesmerizing. But I still donít understand the music, and thatís my problem. There are quite a few videos on the DVD as well, so youíd definitely get your moneyís worth if what youíve been looking for are live Hella videos.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend this release for people who haven't Hella before; listening to Homeboy before listening to Hold Your Horse Is or The Devil Isn't Red would be like trying to get a PhD in mathematics without ever having taken algebra. Or something. For those who have had their Hella-cherry popped, and loved it, you will probably like the DVD, and those who liked Church Gone Wild / Chirpin' Hard might enjoy the EP, but I can't guarantee anything if you were only into the earlier releases.
Maybe someday Iíll understand Hella, and more specifically, this release, but for now, Iíll just have to stand back, smile, and appreciate their talent.
Yeah, Hella is amazing. This homeboy EP is much more along the lines of "Church Gone Wild", with the reverb on the instruments, and that avant-garde screaming of the instruments. The only thing that irrates me about it are the occasional yells from what sounds like a little boy cursing. hahaha