HwH – Distant Echoes

Bursting out of the speakers with all kinds of surprises, HwH’s Distant Echoes brings together aspects of psych, blues, and good old fashioned rock and roll. Kicking off with ‘Walls’, the dreamy, swirling organ is the first thing to grab you by the ears and drag you kicking and screaming into its crazy world of its own invention. From the start, it’s a good introduction to HwH’s trademark sound – laid back but with a firm confidence and a fearlessness when it comes to mashing a whole bag of sound together to create an epic landscape of noise. There is a depth of prog rock that runs through the record, which is made particularly apparent on ‘The Misadventures of the Cynical Crytic’, a glorious love letter to Pink Floyd. By contrast, ‘Coqui’ features some reggae inspired flair that adds to the sense of sheer fun that the band clearly has not only when playing live but also in the whole writing and recording process. It’s a track that defies categorisation, as halfway through it slides through into some kind of musical parallel universe where psychedelia rules the roost, and face melting guitar solos are the only language spoken. This then leads into the ‘Mediterranea Prelude’, which sets the scene for the upcoming three song epic. Sound swirls, pianos offer their delicate melodies, before we lunge headfirst into ‘Mediterranea Two’ (yes, that’s right, two) with an aggressive growl from overdriven guitars that add a rougher flavour to the mix. Then we are treated to some wandering synth notes that add to the sense of musical language in this other world we have been transported to. This leads, naturally, into ‘Mediterranea One’, here led by a hazy vocal that stumbles along in a half insane fashion and laced with a spiky sense of humour. Momentarily the sound pulls back to reveal the sonic wash that lies beneath, while phased tones create the effect of futuristic jet planes flying by overhead. Layer upon layer of warbling sound builds and builds as the guitars add their insistent throbs and melodies, creating a dreamy and intoxicating sensation to carry the listener ever deeper into their world. As the choral voices rise up, it is as though we are then led through into another level with glacial, celestial qualities. Naturally, this next level turns out to be ‘Mediterranea Three’, where the addition of that classic cowbell sound provides a lead into the moment when things pull back once again for a dreamy, Pink Floydian moment of calm. Of course, that calm is always short lived and laced with the sense that something crazy is just around the corner. at times, the prog rock influences even have the occasional nod to moments on Radiohead’s OK Computer and the crescendos of the Polyphonic Spree. By way of drawing everything that HwH appears to stand for, ‘Clean The Pipes’ serves as both a palate cleanser and an ideal presentation of the sounds that the band have managed to excel at to create their own distinctive tone. Distant Echoes is one wild ride, to throw it on for a spin, sit back, at let it take you away on its wild journey of sonic adventures.