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Oliver Hill Lobster Quadrille Interview - International Mixtape Project
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Oliver Hill Lobster Quadrille Interview

Meatbreak - 2007-05-28 07:23:35

This interview is to be published in athe forthcoming June issue of The Lobster Quadrille Magazine:::

This is the sound of one man outsider band Bearhead's first release, working subcutaneously, entrancing every cell like an organic magnetic pulse forcing blood through your body. Immediately it plunges you into a well of shimmering radiance; layers of vibration and fuzz entwining around each other, dense cables of matted hum sinking downwards under lightning rays that break through the surface, plunging into the steady rocking turbulence. "Yeah, they're like 'Why would somebody make music like that?' Well, I'm just trying to find something that's beautiful for me you know? I feel alienated by most types of music and most people and I'm just striving to make something that I consider beautiful where most people consider it ugly and dark, which it is" says Oliver Hill, the enigmatic, softly spoken, incredibly prolific man behind Bearhead when I meet with him to talk about his work. It's one of the first things he says.

In his room, I am surrounded by the materials that inhabit this man's subconscious. Several guitars stand against walls or out in mid use, various amplifiers and speakers in different states of repair flank the walls and mysterious, heavily used effects pedals litter the floor. Dominating one wall is a huge painting with ragged slashes and arced somber brushstrokes that appears to flow from the same source as his music. "Yeah, exactly, yeah I'm glad you could see that." He says when I comment on the similarities "I feel like they're pretty much the same thing. Doing one or doing the other is not really that different. It's like, as you say, coming from the same place, or making the same kind of marks, or resonances or shapes which need to be projected outwards."

It is this approach to music, the combination of visual and sonic elements that is his signature. All his projects are imbued with a visual element as does much of noise; lending itself to psychedelic descriptors more readily than conventional music. When I mention the narrative element in noise music, Oliver says "The thing I love about abstract kinds of music and experimental kinds of music is it really allows the listener to use their imagination as they go along with it. It's completely unpatronising at times because there is no story being forced down peoples' throats, they can take themselves on a journey in their mind and fly between the peaks and troughs and..." He closes his eyes and waves his hands before clutching his head to conclude "...Just ride on different frequencies. If somebody can allow themselves to be under their imagination, it's more rewarding than listening to pop songs or rock songs or anything meant to make people feel a particular thing"

Bearhead grew out of his previous incarnation as Falling Boy which he moved away from because "for a long time it was all about sawing, really bowed guitars and bowed with saws" and he does mean a saw, the rusty blade is visible behind a pile of clothes in the corner; "it was very gliding music." He pauses while he considers; "I was just shifting away from that, not entirely, I haven't completely done away with that project, but Bearhead's more kind of bludgeoning." His group project Terminal Outputs, who have supported bands like Electrelane and Birchville Cat Motel, includes Dallas who also performs as the fierce Green Mist ("I met him 3 days after he got to Brighton. He's a Canadian. We started making music immediately") and occasional drummer Dave Edmonds who Oliver says plays "amazing freeform kind of jazz drumming that's at the same time kind of clattering, but really moving, surging, always really in tune with how we play." He is part of expired duo Aries "with Danya who does really amazing hip-hop kind of drumming." Together they made a 3 CD epic narcotic haze of a concept called The Bear Trilogy which over the course of 3 hours built from lugubrious whispers towards a seismic climax; Aries, says Oliver "finished in a big cloud of smoke." He has recently begun releasing tapes on his Constant Vertigo label; "I've had a few tapes out on the website; one from Adam Lygo's project Invisible, I've released my Bearhead project and Dreamer as well. I was really pleased with the quality of music that people were giving to me, especially the Dreamer tape; it's an amazing journey through really low frequency guitar that's really beautiful. I think I've sold all of the run that I did already." He printed only thirty copies of each, but is very enthusiastic drawing himself up, becoming more animated as he says "I've been thinking about reissuing the tapes on CD because obviously some people don't have tape players and it's such amazing music that I really want to share it with people." The releases on his label are hypnotically compelling; the Dreamer album is two 14 minute tracks, the first a sub bass Burzum blow-out, endlessly riffing into oblivion.

The Burzum reference is one which is met with ample approval and I wonder what he thinks it is that seems to be drawing noise and black metal closer together at the moment; "Black metal's quite alienated music isn't it? A lot of noise; it's music that's born from feeling alienated from society, from the way I see it at least, even in finding ways of expressing that. There's very clearly an overlap. I mean Prurient is about as black metal as you can get without using guitars, I mean, he's the full thing; black hair, leather gloves, screaming, you know, absolutely..." he pauses and wrings his hands as he searches for the right phrase to use "...wretched dark lyrics. I really like painting to Beholding the Daughters of the Firmament." He says suddenly, referring to a track off Burzum's Filosofem album. "Just the other day I had three friends over and we did those paintings..." he gestures to three small pictures on the wall, heavily coloured segmented block patterns of rough texture. "...We did them in about 2 minutes flat. It's quite precious having fucked up friends." Oliver's friends include Wolf Eyes and some would say you can't get much more fucked up than that. "I'm going to release some Failing Lights which was Mike Connelly's project, from Wolf Eyes and Hair Police. I always hang out with them every time they're in the UK, so I'm really looking forward to all that he's going to put onto tape."

I ask him about traveling around playing, as it seems to be such an integral part of the noise scene. He says that "It's good to travel. It's great to go and play this kind of stuff to people and see the different kinds of reactions and see how people from different towns react to you. Chicago was the biggest gig I've ever played, it was a solo show. I played to 400 people at the Empty Bottle, which is a really good gig venue. It's really good to play to so many people. I was playing through such a powerful PA as well and we'd activated the subs under the stage, so when I was playing I could feel my knees being shifted towards the crowd by the low frequencies. I played one chord, let one chord ring out for 15 minutes to start the show off and it was just thundering and all these people were just like..." he opens his eyes wide, cowering slightly "...it was just so incredible, just infinite sustain, really amazing."

One criticism that many people level at the noise scene is it's reliance on effects trickery, pedals and machines to make the sounds, with people skeptical that great art can be made from just manipulating noise, that there is no musical quality or skill to it. Oliver says that "I think it can be like that, there's quite a lot of people in the scene who just buy a load of pedals because it's quite easy to do, because they can't be in a rock band and just jump on the bandwagon." He looks up to fix me with a look of steely conviction; "They're not people who are driven to do it."

www.myspace.com/oliverthesecondcoming www.myspace.com/fallingboy www.myspace.com/constantvertigolabel www.myspace.com/terminaloutputs


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