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You Can Take This Violin From My Cold Dead Hands

NYC's Heston Rifle offers a refreshing slant on post-rock, a slant with balls

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by Alex V. Cook, Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: October, 2005
lost radio voices and a sitar like drone give into a rainy martial beat and lonely guitar and bass interchange, holding the dark clouds close like any goth band, but without blowing it with clownishness
by Alex V. Cook, Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: October, 2005
lost radio voices and a sitar like drone give into a rainy martial beat and lonely guitar and bass interchange, holding the dark clouds close like any goth band, but without blowing it with clownishness

Heston Rifle
What To Do At Time of Accident...br />(Ernest Jenning Record Co.)

Good ole post-rock, where have you been? I've missed you. I know you are busy masturbating into a mirror, throwing cards in a hat deciding whether to go the goopy syrupy Weather Report route on your next record, or whether to turn into Meat Loaf. Its not easy being cheesy, and as much as I think all the anti-hype is valid: self-indulgent, over-wrought, collector-sum-fodder, and not even-rock-anymore, I still love you. you're not the force to be reckoned you used to be (I mean Tortoise is banda non grata and Dirty Three have allegedly hired a ...asp...ocalist) but I think some axillary players with metallic tendencies might just come in and save the day, and make the thinking person's instrumental rock a little rockier.

This seems to be the tack being taken by Heston Rifle, a NYC pentet featuring a a whirling dervish of a violin at its forefront. On the 6 extended pieces on What To Do At The Time of Accident.../em> they shuffle back and forth between forlorn violin passages, minor-key guitar twinklings and unexpectedly loud as fuck power riffs. The opening track "Devices To Transcend Dreaming" shows this the best where you go through all the motions like a Godspeed You Black Emperor mini-review, only yielding from superbly sad interlacings to hit some incendiary power riffs. This pattern continues in "Can you Guess How Much that Guy Weighs?" where more atmosphere holds the thing together , especially the Leslie-tastic organ sounds towards the end.

"Sarnand" opens with a sharp enough riff to peel back the soil, only to show the complex interplay of ants and worms and roots underneath. Its like someone looked at the multi-part rock symphonies that are the staple of prog rock, and said "now what if we could do his and not make it suck?" Mission accomplished on "A String Of Dead Words", with lost radio voices and a sitar like drone give into a rainy martial beat and lonely guitar and bass interchange, holding the dark clouds close like any goth band, but without blowing it with clownishness.

That really seems to be the deal with Heston Rifle, gothic/metal/instrumental/proggish for people that hate all that corny shit. The Dirty Three is probably the closest analogy, and that is borne out of both having a fiddle at the front, and a great skittery drummer, but Heston demonstrates a greater set of what we in the industry like to call "balls" in their meandering juggernaut music. It could conceivably convince you to bang your head one minute and stroke your chin the next.

"Tris Babollsa" keeps up the same kind of pace, with some beautiful arpeggios and archipelagos even, dotting the open sea with life out to the horizon, while the final magnum opus "Bill Vs. The Radio Edit", clocking in at 12+ minutes, kicks open the doors, devolves into a cartoon chase scene, food fight, then into a death valley stoner rockburn, then a haunted house then a squealy Can like noodle supplanted with a cataclysmic dub beat, then finally back into the sort of group dynamics that are the glue of this record. Like a lot of post-rock stuff, I must admit the songs do kinda sound alike, but that is the case with everyone really worth their salt, if you get down to it. Here, instead of it being a limitation, it's more of an opportunity to dig into a set of parameters, to bounce off the walls of ones container and see what you can really do. Beautiful poetic stuff that deserves your discerning ear.

Alex V. Cook
Music Editor

Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com

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