With the single sharp stab of a melodic sword through a glaring silence, Hemhora and the Glass Band waste no time pummeling listeners with insatiably angular hooks and grooves the size of tidal waves in “The Last of Them,” the opening salvo in their new extended play Helix Pattern Blues. A distant, robotic vocal stretches out across an urgent beat that is so thinly applied to the girth of the harmony between the instruments that it becomes translucent. Synchronized movements give way to a gargantuan sonic assault, and in the ash heap left behind is a bucolic acoustic guitar that is welcoming us to the safe, inviting arms of “World On Its Neck.” At this point, any notion that this record was only going to hint at what Hemhora and the Glass Band’s evocative sound would be made of is dashed on the spot.
“World On Its Neck” is quiet and simplistic in comparison to the first track, but it’s guided by a stoic lyrical narrative that is as spellbinding as a vintage beat poem. The words meld into the strips of musical opulence layering upon one another in the foreground, and before we have a chance to appreciate their multifaceted details we’re dropped head first into the acidic post-jazz workout of “BMX.” This song spins us around and struts with a spidery bass that is much heavier than the vocals or even the percussion are from the moment we begin to the second that the band ceases to play, but it’s careful not to steal all the attention away from the smoky, augmented vocals and abstract sampling.
A Mission of Burma-esque intro saturates the first couple of bars in “The Drive/The Wreck” in electrified vitality that many would consider a direct nod to iconic late 80’s alternative rock. The vocals in this song are in a vacuum that seems to pull us backwards amidst the lumbering blossom of the track’s central melody. It’s easy to become hypnotized by the effervescent string parts here, but once we get into the acoustic grit of “Boxes (Vices)” it becomes clear that Hemhora and the Glass Band have only begun to utilize the weapons they’ve got readily available to them in the studio. This EP lays the groundwork, but their debut album will undoubtedly bring all of these organic ingredients into full maturation.
The obtuse “Boxes (Vices)” sets up the stage for Helix Pattern Blues’ fever pitch closing pop rocker “Stage Dive,” which despite having a handle that triggers memories of raucous out of control concerts in many of us isn’t quite as reckless nor unhinged in its expression of passionate emotion. Hemhora and the Glass Band give us a peek into their creative ethos with this incredibly robust and well-rounded extended play that some would rightfully call the breakthrough release of autumn 2018. As experimental and wildly original as this is, it’s more than relatable to the vast majority of indie fans who have been desperate for some new jams that draw from a well other than that of The Velvet Underground, and what it lacks in corporate predictableness it more than makes up for in intrepid, forward thinking melodicism that transcends barriers between genres and even tastes.