Spill Gold are a great example of a band that are more than the sum of their parts. Just two members, Rosa Ronsdorf and Nina de Jong, with a collection of analogue synths, some percussion and an old French drum kit made by ASBA they have managed to create a cohesive sound that mixes a range of influences from 60s psych, Krautrock and blunt-edged electronica. Highway Hypnosis is a collage of infectious tracks that propel you into a world that seems to phase in and out of our reality. The songs offer a golden age sci-fi feel where the sweet and weird rub shoulders, dissonant sounds can fly in, tempos can change so you feel enjoyably off balance like a ride at the fun fair.
‘Beast Machine Alien’ opens the album with a great looseness and a bouncing cadence that clickety-clacks along with only an occasional warped chord that crashes in and rattles your fillings. The title track ‘Highway Hypnosis’ is a light and dark gem with a menacing opening that evolves unexpectedly into a sweet tropical chorus. ‘Ecotone Part 1’ is a trippy night-time journey with an asymmetric riff and pops of backwards sounds whereas ‘Ecotone Part 2’ is a raw nerve exposed to the elements with jazz paranoia and cacophony swirling through its bad detox vibe. ‘Oyster’ starts as a Gamelan sounding meditation exercise with a calm voice teaching you to stop your thoughts, but the narrative starts to lose control and run wild: “you are a looping machine…”, “Go crazy. What is crazy?” and then the drums start with a haunting backing and then the song is off and running like The XX and Automatic had become pen pals. ‘Burning’ is; rising and falling fifths slide in and out along with a repetitive steel drum sound and hypnotising flat vocals. The album closes with the bubbling ‘Bird Soul’ where a towering set of synths that swirl that soar like a digital tornado and it wouldn’t be out place in a John Carpenter film.
Spill Gold are shape shifters using atypical rhythms and collage to make sounds that feel like they have been evolved from experiment and sessions of trance-jams but then these have been harnessed, refined, and given form before ending up on the album. Analogue circuits and neurons fire together and the inventiveness of this tangle of humans, machines and instruments effervescences throughout Highway Hypnosis. It feels like they have taken Kraftwerk for a test drive but returned it to the showroom scratched and dented and but with a psychedelic paint job. And if you ever wanted to see drum kits covered in cake then watch the video for ‘Beast Machine Alien’ below.
Review by Paul F Cook