Litany Reviews: Hilt's The Worst of the Flu - by Corey Goldberg
Well, I've been enjoying the new Hilt: The Worst of the Flu disc for past few days and I figured I'd give everyone a preview of what to expect. This is the last CD in the From the Vault subscription and it finishes the series on a superb high note. The core musicians present on this album are cEvin Key, the singular Al Nelson, and Dwayne Goettel. Also making appearances are a pre-Pink Dots Ryan Moore, Dutch Harrison, Chris Sheppard and Betsy Martin. The album features material from the Flu, the project which evolved into Hilt but which was previously only heard on some obscure cassette releases, through unreleased tracks from both of the Hilt LPs and to top it all off, three tracks recorded by cEvin and Al in 1996 for a proposed new Hilt LP that unfortunately will never be.
The Worst... is an eclectic mix of all of the various styles that Hilt delved into. The are bursts of punk fury like Staminate that lay somewhere at the convergence of John Zorn's Painkiller, Throbbing Gristle, and your favorite local hardcore band. There's cEvin's trademark assimilation of reggae and dub sounds on tracks like Roll One Up. Their half-mocking take on late 80s/early 90s alterna-rock previously heard on tracks like Superhoney shows through here on songs like Lyin on the Floor and Empty Day. Patsy and the brief Interlude offer a rare snippet of cEvin's lyrical electric guitar in what might've been what Center Bullet or Film would've sounded like had Skinny Puppy been a rock band. The 1986 Flu electro -madness classic Ichabod Crane features cEvin's vocals and lyrics written in 1976. Hilt always showed the bandís humorous side and this album continues that trend with tracks like Beefcake, which is sort of akin to Skinny Puppy riding along on a trip to the circus by a child who is afraid of clowns, and their take on piano balladeering, My Shit Behooves Me. Yet the honesty and poignancy of the 1996 demo No Lessons Learned, "dedicated to all friends lost", cannot be denied. The smoky barroom-bred Dig Me Colder, also a 96 demo, could easily be one of the best tracks ever to come out of this project.
Basically, this album has something for everyone and yet somehow feels like a coherent whole in the process. The Worst of... is anything but. It gives us a look at the heretofore unseen mass of private material that Hilt's LPs have only hinted at. If one is heading your way, be excited.
Mar. 24, 2003