Zach Hill: Face Tat

Zach Hill: Face Tat
In many respects, Zach Hill is one of the most well respected drummers of his time. Perhaps that is why its so hard to believe that he has only been drumming since 1995. He has become critically acclaimed with his main group, Hella as well as with his peripheral projects, Crime in Choir, Bygones, Goon Moon, and work with Marnie Stern among others. Face Tat is Hill’s second solo album, his first since 2008’s Astrological Straits. Like Astrological Straits, Face Tat finds Hill collaborating with a myriad of talent musicians including No Age, Devendra Banhart, Prefuse 73, as well as Greg Saunier of Deerhoof among others.
As one might expect from a math rock drummer gone solo, Face Tat is an extremely experimental and often difficult record. Take for example, the album’s lead single “Memo To The Man”. The track starts off with a catchy lo-fi horn line for about 15 seconds before being demolished by a Quiet Riot “Come On Feel the Noize”-style drum part. Then the track’s vocals enter. The vocals are not so much singing as a rhythmic talking. The vocals do not necessarily sound great but that is part of the experimentalism of the album (I assume).
The experiments do take turns for the ugly on the record. While the drumming is solid on “Ex-Ravers”, the loud repeating sampling gets really annoying really quickly. Although after the first 15 seconds of it I hoped it would go away and never return, it repeats sporadically throughout the song, acting as a chorus. But that is not the only stinker, the short “Jackers” is a disjointed mess. I understand disjointed is the name of the game on Face Tat but the track is just too lo-fi and loud to ever sound right.
In the end, I did like Face Tat but I recognize that the album does not have wide spread appeal. The album is a difficult listen and most people will not have the patients to give it multiple listens. I did give it multiple listens and I still do not “get” the whole thing.
Rating: 7.2/10
MP3: Zach Hill “Memo to the Man”
Buy: iTunes