[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Another change in style from Millipede, this time becoming sparse to the point of near disappearance. Don Hill’s project has never been one to rest on it’s laurels or do anything mediocre for that matter; with the release of his third album we find him getting very hostile indeed. This isn’t hostility as you or I know it, but clearly some things have been irritating him and his music reflects this quite pointedly. Those intricate rhythms and pauses have been shoved aside in favor of vast, grandiose atmospheres. The sort you’d expect to encounter when say, scaling a glacier or being out on an ice floe that is beginning to come apart right under your feet. Nifty, eh?
Well don’t go folding your arms in protest just yet as ‘A Mist and a Vapor’ has a surprising amout of variance to it. You won’t put this on and drift off to sleep, quite to the contrary. When you get around a quarter of the way in you’ll be inside this man’s head, those drums which sound off-time aren’t at all. I mistakenly thought so the first few times I played this one through but eventually I came to understand why they were placed them the way they were. Rather than just sequence yet another batch of perfectly arranged material and keep it safe, I think he had these parts played live over what he’d already laid down.
I’ve caught him in person before and he commanded the space effectively but this collection I’d absolutely maim to witness. If there’s not some kind of percussive set up incorporated into his up coming shows I’ll be shocked.
He’s transitioning Millipede into a more improvisational, free-form project, a move I would not have seen coming but am beyond grateful is happening. The editing tricks and micro-processed beats are out of the equation, Hill is practicing what has become anathema to many electronic artists: musical evolution. Emphasis is now given to breathing space in these compositions, a wild and unkempt environment to let your mind stretch out in. Don’t try to keep time with what you’re hearing, Millipede are now all about undoing conventions. It’s a looser framework he operates in with his new record and once you cast out your own expectations you’ll be amazed.
Invariably, there will be those who cry “where’s the rest? this doesn’t sound finished.” Ah, that’s the beauty of what he’s got going on here. It isn’t. You, the intrepid listener are in charge of that. These tracks are only part of the equation, the rest of them lie buried deep in your own subconscious whether you want to accept it or not. Millipede do not sound modern here, this is ancient, primordial material. The kind you’d have heard perhaps as our ancestors beat out their own primitive rhythms underneath those majestic and mysterious stars. It is almost as though he saying, here’s my latest, now go get your own accents and see what you come up with. Maddeningly interactive, it’s like a novel written in the second person and who knows what lies in store ahead…