Album Review: Alive at Roadburn by Hills

Surely the sign of a killer live album is that when you listen to it you feel a pang of jealousy that you were not there. Sure you could see the band somewhere else sometime, and actually I have and it was brilliant, but not at THAT performance. By my reckoning Hills have now released as many live albums as they have studio recordings. For many bands I would question whether this was warranted. As far as Hills are concerned, however, I would be happy to listen to as many live albums as they have done performances; since every live album they have brought out has been significantly different.

Hills at the Liverpool PsychFest in 2014
Hills at the Liverpool PsychFest in 2014

The clue as to why this should be lies at the end of this collection of four tracks, all of which come in at around the thirteen to fourteen minute mark. One of the band thanks the audience and says that they had planned to play six tracks in their time slot, but in the end only had time for four. Here then is a band that likes to improvise and go off on wonderful tangents, to the extent that tracks that I know well are hardly recognisable here; being brilliant in a whole different way.

The other factor to be added in here is that this was recorded at the Roadburn Festival, meaning that the recording is very clean and yet conveys the performance superbly well; something about which those of us who were not there can be very thankful for.

Although the set is just short of an hour I found it to be so engrossing that the time passed by amazingly quickly. The band get into such a groove and must have themselves lost all track of time while playing. This is conveyed to the listener in a really mesmerising way. Yet there is also something visceral and tribal about the music, you can feel the vitality and spirit; the soul and essence of the aural landscapes that are portrayed here. For me there is something otherworldly to this performance, yet it is also grounded in something that is located deep within the four natural elements. This is music that comes from someones very core and hits you in the same place. It is haunting and yet unyielding, complex and yet uncluttered, novel and yet somehow familiar.

Having heard, what I think are, all of Hills releases this double album of tracks catches the band as elementally as anything I have encountered. This performance is clearly the sound of a group of musicians who are totally invested into their music. The sound of a band who are rooted firmly within the Swedish tradition of innovative and improvised sounds that are linked firmly to nature and the intense changing of the Scandinavian seasons. It is a sound that will totally transport you to a place where you can feel diverted of all the accretions of daily life and somehow return to a more primal state of being.


‘Alive at Roadburn’ is released by Rocket Recordings, and is available for preorder now here.

The album will be available on LP/CD/DL & vinyl versions will be gatefold with artwork courtesy of Nik Payne of the Myrrors.

Track listing:

National Drone/ Frigörande Musik/ Master Sleeps/ Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd

Follow me on Twitter @psychinsightmusicFacebook and Instagram 

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s