White Hills are one of those bands that are pretty much fearless. They’ve run the gamut on their records over the years from Sabbath gut busters to spaced-out Hawkwind to Tangerine Dream-esque ambient interludes. And the crazy thing is that they can pull them all off quite well. Their 2010 double album H-p1 seems to have been this monolithic mountain located in some fantastical world of crunchy riffage and droning ambivalence where they checked off everything on the band’s bucket list. They seemed to have reached a sonic peak and staked their claim to space rock’s crown. What do you do then? Well, you keep on truckin’, that’s what you do. So You Are…So You’ll Be is Dave W and Ego Sensation keeping the momentum going.
So You Are…So You’ll Be is not breaking new ground, nor is it the band becoming stagnant. It’s White Hills taking what they know and telling a new tale. “In Your Room” breaks through the ambient weirdness of “InWords” with a monster wall of guitar noise and a massive drum track that would make Bill Ward proud. Dave W’s sinister whisper of a vocal balanced nicely with the lovely Ego Sensation’s Kate Pierson-like vocal howl. It’s classic White Hills. “The Internal Monologue” is five and a half minutes of droning ambient brilliance. It creates a dream-like state that “So You Are…So You’ll Be” awakens you from in cranked Marshall fashion. The title track is a barn burner of a song that shows Dave W is spacey, guitar God mode with laser shots swishing by your head in the headphones(a must for this album, headphones). “Outworlds”, acting as the “when you hear the beep, turn the page”, brings us to “Forever In Space(Enlightened)”. Nearly 8 minutes of freaked-out noise and a pulsing rhythm that blows up into an all-out fuzz rocker that helps define the word “epic”. Dave W’s guitar is equal parts garage rock fuzz and black metal dirge, with his vocals going from psychedelic to punk squall. Welcome to the centerpiece, people. “Rare Upon This Earth” sounds like flaming seagulls and a fiery ocean scene. A soundtrack to some Utopian B-movie that you get drunk and go see at midnight before the demonic Go-Go girls appear and you can faintly hear Roger Corman laughing in the background. “Circulating”, another ambient segue, brings us into album closer “MIST(Winter)”, which is a massive instrumental that brings to mind some of the classic instrumental psyche-exploding moments of White Hills and Heads On Fire. It’s a triumphant end to yet another bizarre and beautiful chapter in the canon of White Hills.
One of the coolest things about White Hills that they don’t stick to a one-note guitar freakout. They keep things interesting and new by mixing up the fuzz boxes with the space echo. The oscillators with the reverbs. Dave W has never been one to do what you think he should do. He does what Dave W wants to do. He does what tickles his fancy, or floats his boat. Fortunately for this reviewer, my fancy is tickled as well, and my boat has set sail for the dark and unpredictable waters called White Hills. So You Are…So You’ll Be helps to keep the vessel on a course for spaced-out freaky goodness.