steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass" CDEP

Narnack Records

Genres: experimental rock

Narnack Records
381 Broadway
4th Floor
Suite 3
New York City, NY

Dec 15 - 21 2003

You will scratch your head raw for the album's entire duration.

Is there melody here?

You will be confused.  You will try your best to understand what's going on but it won't be obvious.  Hella play with such energy, such experimental excitement, that it's often easy to miss what makes their music so listenable.  Buried deep within the obscenely fast-paced beats and the bizarre electronic accompaniment are moments of pure accessibility.  Wicked-cool accessibility.  And the fact that it's all done by two guys - a drummer and a guitarist/computer wizard - just ices the cake.  You gotta dig it.

But before you run to the stores in a panicked must-buy frenzy, I'll warn you: Hella isn't for everyone.  You need an open mind to appreciate what these two guys are doing.  Tracks like "Electric Guitar" and "Your DJ Children," perhaps two of the most accessible moments on this album, roll by at a mile a minute, pumped to the max with rhythmic urgency - but their melodies aren't as obvious as they could be.  As a result, it takes a couple more listens than usual for the songs to sink in; alternatively, they also stay fresh for longer than most songs do.  It's a trade-off.

The best moment on this album is, without doubt, the last song - "Who Ray" - wherein a repeated guitar melody is laid over spastic drumming and remarkably effective electronic accompaniment.  It's an inventive piece of music that manages to be experimental without compromising accessibility.

As a bonus, the disc also includes a three minute live video of "Brown Metal" that can be viewed on your computer.  The band plays passionately, awkwardly stuffed into the corner of a room, while an oddly subdued audience watches on in awe.  It's far from theatrical, and yet they still make it into an amazing performance.

Hella is one of the most original new bands around.  They live in an aura of hipness and yet avoid pretentiousness and superiority.  Total Bugs Bunny... is worth it for the "Brown Metal" video, but look at how much else you get as well.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 10 tracks, distributed by Ad Noiseam and Soleilmoon, released 2003]