Music Reviews

Artist: Hilter (@)
Title: A tergo
Format: CD
Label: Hikikomori Records (@)
Rated: *****
Well this was almost the CD review that wasn't. The CD was misplaced until a few weeks ago (found wedged between two boxes where it must have fallen), then the wrong side of the CD picked up some of the adhesive gum from the plastic sleeve edge of the CD package and wouldn't play because of that, and I had a hell of a time cleaning it off to restore the CD, which I finally did. Lastly, I misplaced the one-sheet that came with the CD, and this was somewhat crucial, as this group is so obscure there is pitifully little info on them on the Internet. Google 'Hilter' and you are given results for 'Hitler' who obviously had nothing to do with this album. Even their label (for this CD), Hikikomori Records only has a description of the album and not much on the group on their website. Hilter doesn't appear to have their own website either (so I had to sub the label's website just so I had something to put in the required space. Just recently I found the one-sheet providing me a little more info on this enigmatic project from Iceland so finally, I'm getting down to it.

Hilter was founded in 2000 by Peter C. Mueller (vocals, programming, words), Rob Perzika (rhythm, drum, composing) and Rhalv Folling (cello, visuals). 'A tergo' is their first album in five years, previous releases being 'Sexfilms' (2004) and 'Prepared' (2005).I haven't heard either of those, so there is no prior frame of reference. Hilter's modus operandi for their brand of experimental avant-gardism is to employ a lot of samples, loops, TV/movie dialogue, bursts of noise and twisted synth sounds with occasional passages of musicality woven throughout the proceedings. Hilter sounds like what you might get if you mixed bits of Autechre, Brume and Brighter Death Now together (and/or similar artists), so you kind of get the idea. In no way though is this any form of IDM, even in in the loosest sense.

This 9 track 50 minute album opens with a spoken word sample, 'Hello Sonny, I suppose you know...' on 'L'affaire de Sonny B.' and quickly churns into a miasma of of dialogue samples, noise, electronic sounds, loops, drones, etc. 'Modus Operandi' which follows (was I subliminally induced to employ this term earlier?) makes copious use of the dialogue sample 'If you shoot somebody in the head with a 45 every time you kill somebody it becomes like your fingerprint, see?' and others from the film 'Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer,' over eerie, droney atmosphere and heartbeat. There are also other stray sounds and a bit of atmospheric, ominous piano. 'klopf mich ab' has a sense of foreboding malevolence utilizing dark ambient textures, and a girl breathing heavily (trying to escape the killer?, monster?, whatever) with strategically placed staccato beats to heighten the tension. It's the briefest track on the album at only 2:51. The first few seconds of 'Regan No' are a shitstorm of noise but actually becomes the most musical track so far with a rhythm track and piano noted amongst other more twisted sounds. It's 'Triangle of passion' though that is the magnum opus on 'A tergo,' at 18:31 the track is lengthy enough to expound a variety of changes and mutations, mostly on the industrial sinister side. The form is quite varied, but relentlessly bleak. It's almost like some kind of surreal funhouse dark ride through a factory engaged in the manufacture of toxic products. There's a point in this madness where it sounds like some kind of stamping machine is pounding the heads of live babies (they might want to put in a disclaimer, 'no babies were injured in the production of this track') for some nefarious purpose. After awhile though this persistent stomping just becomes a little annoying. I can't deny though that this track was one weird trip.

The rest of the album produces some credible dark ambience in both atmospheric and noisy shades, but the last track 'Persona' has a cool industrial rhythmic structure to it, no less dark but a lot more moving. I was rather impressed with this, and is seemed like the perfect outro. My guess is that there aren't a lot of people who will pick up this release, and limited to only 50 copies (my promo copy doesn't count as one of the 50) , I guess the label didn't think so either. However, if you do manage to acquire one, count yourself lucky because this could possibly become one of those cult items that could soar in price in the future because of its scarcity. 'A tergo' may not be the best thing to come down the pike lately, but it is an intriguingly intense excursion into a peculiar realm of dark ambient dementia.

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