Drum Roll Please…
Zach Hill takes a turn to solo work with his latest album Astrological Straits. The incredibly versatile Hella drummer delivers what could be described as a 60-minute drum solo with special guest collaborators including his Hella band mates, LCD Soundsystem, No Age, and Marnie Stern.Sounding more like HEALTH than Hella, Hill delivers a varied mix of marvelous and almost terrible tracks with this album. It was always to be expected that the album would be dominated by thumping, polyrhythmic pulsations and an awe-inspiring drum beat throughout. But has Hill gone too far?
The simple answer to this question depends on lenience to a barrage of spastic rhythm and love of clever polyrhythm. Fans of his style will remain dumbstruck with the unremitting strength and talent he has thrown into the mix. However, those looking for a Hella-inspired progression and a candidate for album of the year will be sadly disappointed.
Tracks like “Uhuru” seem to exist for the sole purpose of self-gratification on behalf of Hill, with the dominance of several drums over anything else that has been placed behind them. “Ummer” and “Stoic Logic,” however, seem to make up for this with their simpler beats and more melodious content. These two songs feature Dean Spunt and Randy Randall of No Age and provoke dreams of a math rock supergroup with Spunt on guitar and Hill at the drums; even an expanded No Age would be good enough.
The album isn’t excellent and definitely won’t make anyone’s top ten, but it is full of a constant raging energy only Hill could manage or even control. He takes some almost negligible risks with his debut solo album with tracks like “Uhuru” and “Iambic Strays” being high on the list of questionable entries. But overall the album exudes enough talent to warrant a certain anticipation as to how he will progress as a solo musician.