Adam Hill "Two Hands, Tulips"
Wonderful collage of found sounds and fine songs. As good as a night at the movies.
A one-man band of sorts Adam Hill, originally from Ohio, now residing in Vancouver is currently studying music composition at the University of British Columbia. Judging by this offering he should pass with flying colours studded as it is throughout with hugely enjoyable songs that benefit immensely from a variety of found sounds which add texture and colour to the album. Hill plays guitar, bass, accordion and trumpet while some of the sounds he utilises include old radio broadcasts, phone messages, a film projector, hospital equipment and old music fragments.
The format for many of the songs here is a simple and folky Americana with “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town” a minor tour de force that could grace many a band’s setlist while the traditional “Raleigh and Spencer” is given a robust rendition with the sound samples merged superbly into the fabric of the song.
“Dust Disease,” a song about a miner’s lungs and his struggles with the company beaurocracy uses captured banjo to convey the territory, typewriters clacking away represent the hurdles he has to jump while the insistent bleep of a life signs machine signals his eventual hospitalisation. This might sound mighty clumsy in the written word but it all falls into place on the song making it very evocative. Hill carries off this trick throughout the album with traffic and car sounds weaved into the tender love song “clqk” and that projector sprocketing away through “French Films.” Hill quits the song format on occasion with several sound collages and opens and closes the album with him playing double bass on renditions of Bach’s Sarabande. The overall effect is somewhat akin to Burroughs’ cut up method and certainly reminiscent of sixties experiments by Zappa and others. Fortunately Hill has the musical chops and the songwriting talent that allows the music to avoid being overshadowed by the concept.