Hella with the Aislers Set and the Quails

Friday, April 4; Rocket Bar

Apr 2, 2003 at 4:00 am
Remember when you were a kid and you clothes-pinned your dad's poker cards to the spokes of your bike wheels? Remember that frenetic clickity-clickity-clack-clack-clack that rippled off the wheels as the spokes tore the cards to tatters when you took your feet off the pedals and let the bike carry you down the precipitous face of the Big Hill? Hella drummer Zach Hill is the musical equivalent of a tiny army of kids on poker-card-laced bikes careening over the side of Mount McKinley. He strikes his kit with dexterous abandon, skipping wildly from precise speed to sketchy outbursts of off-kilter flailing dictated by metarhythms only he can sense, only he can touch. Guitarist Spencer Seim, the other member of Hella, is the neighborhood badass chasing behind on a chopped minibike, whirling a silvery length of baling wire overhead.

Eschewing power chords for twitchy Derek Bailey-esque runs and snarling rabbit punches of melodic feedback, Seim's tensile attack lashes Hill into flinches and contortions of time, little hitches and zigzags that propel Hella on a skittery wayward course. Seim and Hill's two-wheeled dogfight unfolds in loopy arcs of fury and funny, seemingly unplanned, yet carefully orchestrated to amuse and delight.