Seattle band Christopher Hill and the Stardust Crush is very much a multi-genre experience but are self-described as “Death-Folk-Rock” and “Post-Psychedelia.” Mason Jennings meets Black Mountain. Bob Dylan meets Radiohead. Perhaps it’s the sound of Bob Dylan guiding a handful of wide-eyed, sweating tourists on an Ayahuasca retreat. The ensemble is set to release their latest effort, KAABA(Keeping America All Better Again, tomorrow but is streaming exclusively here a day early.
The music goes many layers deep, in addition to traditional rock instrumentation there is a focus on found object recording. Such as doing percussion by banging on the inside of a dishwasher (The Coronavirus Prison Blues). In “A Guided Tour of Lafayette Park” and “Squatter’s Right’s,” there is synthetically created machinery, marching boots, sirens, dog howls and whimpers along with drone strikes, bombs and breaking glass. A cacophony dogfights like WWII fighter planes through the mid-air of the songs. But you’ll also find the cool hum of distant UFOs. The strange tones of metallic discs, hovering and zipping across a dusty sunset. Guitars are finger picked acoustic or electric, either cleanly recorded or shimmering and crackling with blown-out amp saturation… These are chiming notes wrapped in fat balmy fuzz, pin-balling down a canyon of echo. Music theory is warped, sliding from major and minor keys into discordant tritones and back again. Vocals are layered into a chorus of singing characters. The lyrics speak of hard times but look carefully around the corner at hope. They secretly gawk with little breath or blinking as they peer at this distant light. Christopher elaborates on the album saying, “The album is a call for everyone who cares to work together as a team to hold the world together in difficult times. There is also a theme of death and rebirth all through the songs. In some cases, it’s literal and in some cases it’s figurative… like the life and death of a friendship. The other theme is compassion. The last song “Say Their Names” is a call, especially to white people to do their part to support Black Lives Matter.”
Christopher Hill (pronouns he/him or they/them) started their career by releasing Grace in 2014 and have since released three other records, Heart For A Glove-2016, Bare Bones-2017 and MAABA-2019 The latter three are under the moniker “Christopher Hill & The Stardust Crush.” MAABA and the first single “Mrs. Liberty” won high praise critics and audiences everywhere.
MAABA(Making America All Better Again) was a political, science fiction, protest “Opera” which included a free 100 page sci-fi novella written by Hill entitled hypo-dramatically as, “The Story of MAABA.” The avant-garde video for the title track “MAABA” was an official selection of the 2019 Stiff Film Festival in Seattle.
Christopher’s latest LP release, KAABA(Keeping America All Better Again, is a “Punched in the Jaw and Pushed Through the Looking Glass” sequel to the dystopian land of MAABA. MAABA was about the peaceful fight of resistance heroes in a dimly lit reality led by the dysfunctional, morally bankrupt “President Golden Hair,” aka “Overlord Orange Skin.”
The new album KAABA begins as a call for political reform and social justice here on First Earth but then veers suddenly into stark personal territory. When least expected KAABA drives at speed back again to the political/social justice realm. It ends with a call to support the Black Lives Matter Movement. The Cover Art shows a peaceful space-alien take over in D.C. There is a UFO abducting (but not harming) the current occupant “squatter” of D.C. power. Young people are in front of the capital protesting him and his policies as the capital’s roof is carefully levitated off by the ship. The president floats out and rises up above in a beam of light. The Art includes an Alien imposed stop to Nuclear War for humankind’s own good. As the UFO takes him, a laser beam simultaneously shoots out of the ship and disables a NUKE that he was about to fire! Through some super advanced science, the laser turns the missile into white doves of peace flying up into the night.
KAABA’s current hope as a project is to wake people up now so we won’t need to rely on “higher powers (whatever people may believe them to be)” to save us later. Hopefully, people can rely on inner heart light and upper brain reason to make better choices about leadership now! The peaceful takeover is a metaphor for the immense power from protest for change coming from historically disenfranchised “Alien/minority” people and their allies. While MAABA included work by other musicians and vocalists, all of the instrumentation and singing on KAABA is done by Christopher Hill.