Hella

Church Gone Wild/Chirpin' Hard

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This is kind of the noisy indie rock equivalent to OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below: Hella's Church Gone Wild/Chirpin' Hard is a two-CD set comprised of two solo albums, one each by guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill. Seim's disc is Chirpin' Hard, which is the more immediately accessible of the pair and certainly the one that's closest to the standard Hella template: 12 tracks of eccentric but surprisingly enjoyable instrumental math rock, heavy on the buzzing lo-fi keyboards and chattering synth-noise fills and topped off with the nearly 18-minute title track, which incorporates large sections of dead silence, interrupted by far the catchiest tune and most energetic performance on the album. That's the good news. The bad news is that Hill's Church Gone Wild is a pretentious load of bilge. You know "Are You Hung Up?" and "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music" from the Mothers of Invention's We're Only in It for the Money? (Hill sure does, because the opening "Leaving the Arena of Anthropology" is a barefaced ripoff of same.) Well, imagine their cut-and-paste aesthetic and brief passages of "difficult" amelodic noise and "satirical" pastiches of traditional pop music tropes, stretched out to full album length and lacking Frank Zappa's sense of humor, compositional ability, and talent. It's so unremittingly awful that it not only makes Seim's album sound even better in comparison, it makes Hella's previous albums sound worse in retrospect.

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