Tripper – Hella review

I don’t understand how I haven’t taken note of this band until now, because Hella’s newest record Tripper pretty much does everything that I like bands to do.  A virtuosic instrumental guitar and drums duo that deftly weaves through various time signatures with ease?  Check.  An incredibly skilled drummer that always sounds like he’s had one (or two, or three) too many cups of coffee? Check.  An overall mood that can be described as either “spastic”, “chaotic” or just plain ol’ “insane”?  Check check CHECK.

It’s probably important to note that some of my favourite music is stuff that most people find to be pretty annoying – I’ve been a Rush fan since high school and two of my favourite bands are The Aquabats and Bomb the Music Industry!, both of whom have been accused of being too (*ahem*) “peppy”.  So just be warned that most of you who check out this album will probably hate it.  And that’s totally understandable – the guitarist plays chunky, disjointed, oft-incomprehensible chords and licks in odd rhythms, and the few sections within songs that would sound more “normal” are totally offset by the hyperactive drummer, who pretty much rolls really fast all the time.

However, if you’re like me, and you like fast, complicated music, Tripper is an absolute gold mine.  It’s a complete frenzy of weird stuff, whipping around the inside of your head like a hurricane on PCP.  It’s insanely difficult to keep track of, and it’s so quick with musical ideas that it’s impossible to get bored – every ten seconds some new element comes along, whether it be a completely new riff, a variation on an earlier one, or something in the rhythm that completely warps the context of everything that’s going on.    But what’s most important here is that aside from all the insanity, there’s actually some honest-to-goodness songwriting craft – sure, it’s all hidden behind layers of time signature-switching and twitchy ludicrousness, but listen to songs like “Yubacore” or “Kid Life Crisis” and tell me those aren’t stupendously written songs.

Listen, it’s pretty obvious that not a lot of people are going to be into this stuff, but it’s quite seldom that an album leaves me totally breathless once it’s finished, and this is one of those coveted few.  Go into Hella’s Tripper with an open mind and you’ll have an absolute blast.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go give it another spin.

By Daniel Korn

Daniel wants to be a rock star when he grows up. He is currently pursuing a career in music by studying at York University, where he hits things loudly with sticks. He is in two gigging bands - New Stems and The Formalists. He writes for MVRemix and Cadence Canada. He also has a weekly podcast called Two Loud Guys. Aside from music, he likes video games, comic books, puppies, and food. You can follow him on twitter @AmateurDan.

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