Hella - Acoustics (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Acoustics (2006)

5 Rue Christine

Out of all the bands I thought would release acoustic albums, I can't say with any sort of truth that I thought Hella would be among them. Their fervent, and frankly weird niche in music isn't one that I'd peg for ideal representation in the acoustic medium. Regardless, that's just what they've done, or at very least, tried to do.

Acoustics is a re-recorded compilation of sorts, one that brings together six tracks that appeared on previous Hella full-lengths and strips them down to the bare bones of structure. Guitarist Spencer Seim wields his new-found acoustic expressions just as he would in anything that uses electricity -- with reckless abandon. Things don't change much for drummer Zach Hill, as his primary objective is now to coalesce with a type of music that he rarely has anything to do with.

Hella is already one of the most polarizing bands in existence. The true epitome of a ‘love ‘em or hate ‘em' band, the Sacramento duo do their best to compel over the course of the 23-minute duration, but the unfortunate truth of it is that they're stylistically spent within the first five minutes or so. They rage and cascade over a multitude of rhythms and direction changes on "Biblical Violence" and "Cafeteria Bananas," but it becomes increasingly hard to discern one minute from the next as this EP progresses. The finger picking in the latter of those tracks is extremely impressive, but it's really only the one standout from all six tracks. They play with the speed and intensity of absolute madmen, but it's really not enough. With electric guitar Seim has the benefit of effects pedals and a plethora of tunings at his disposal, but that can't be used or conveyed acoustically. With lack of vocals and such a stripped down sound, the limits of what can truly be done really bare down on the duo.

That's not to say they don't try, because like hell they do, but it just doesn't meet with the success I'm sure they're looking for. The cacophony is un-ending, but the interest is.