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Trip Hill - “Automatic Folk & Flowers” (2015) review


Trip Hill - Automatic Folk & Flowers (2015)

I’m hoping to encompass reviews for the last four outings by Trip Hill, Ten Petals of Manipura, Raining Metallic Mushroom, Lamp of the Universe and Automatic Folk & Flowers into one comprehensive discussion. While I’m most familiar with his stunning 2000 release Takes from Oblivion, which did have a few weak songs, the album was long enough that I was able to create a worthy collection [over 51 minutes] that was strong enough, psychedelically inspiring enough, and musically intoxicating enough, to send me through the rest of his material for a third time just to see if there was something that I was missing, something that may have eluded me, even a single song that I could add to my collection … though that proved not to be the case.

It instantly struck me a strange that an artist could so change the character and nature of their music, that even in later albums, bits and pieces from long ago, bits and pieces that might refer back to the fundamental genesis of his endeavors, would not show up. That being said, that line of demarcation is more that evident, as if Trip Hill has had some profound musical vision, or physical experience, a sense of enlightenment, one that demanded that he venture down an entirely new avenue without once looking over his shoulder in recognition of what brought him to this space.

While profoundly good, the essence of his relationship to sound since 2008 has morphed into a single concept, one where any song from these later albums could be inserted into any other, and the album would sound like it hasn’t missed a beat. With that in mind, the last four albums from Trip Hill play out as extensions of each other, laced together with edgy electronic track openings, openings that over four albums have become a parody of themselves, as if he’s stuck in a rut, lost in the overuse of a single colour, with the result being that his music sounds much more electronically oriented, less organic, with a less earthly or even spacey atmosphere, where he’s given over to something that for me comes across as machine-like, and unable to mesh with my physical being. I know many bands who walk this line, bands I respect, bands such as The Vacant Lots, who have also moved deeply into the electronic field … and as I said, are very good, yet even with the psych inspiration flowing, it fails for establish a soul or heartbeat into which I’m able to give myself over with a sense of completeness, trusting that where I’ll be taken is where I want to be.


This profound shift in direction will no doubt bring newfound listeners on board, people who move and course in this new age better than I … so if you are one of them, I highly encourage you to give these albums a spin. All and all, I have to say that these releases don’t spiral, they don’t travel anywhere for me, they merely exist as brightly wrapped packages with nothing inside. I on the other hand, prefer to lay wasted with more orbital morphing of sounds, sounds that I recognize, sounds that evolve, ebb flow and shimmer, sounds that I’ve grown up and old with, sounds that lead me down recognizable yet new paths, allowing me to feel warm and nurtured, all aspects that I find lacking on these releases.

- Jenell Kesler
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