The House of Alchemy label has for some time now spoiled their followers (including yours truly) with great sounds wrapped in beautifully packaged artwork. This album by the ambassadors of New England impro-psych, Burnt Hills, is just one of many interesting releases coming out of the label these days.
When it comes to building a sturdy wall of guitar mayhem, the ever-changing members of Burnt Hills certainly know their way around town. On “Amphipacifica”, they find themselves as only a quartet and that might scare people expecting to be blown away by the bands signature massive, insisting sound. The three guitarists, however, manage this problem quite smoothly by turning up the amps to an even louder level than usual.
When listening to the single track on the album, it becomes obvious that a 100% improvised and 60 minutes long recording inevitably will include some less interesting minutes, but when comparing this jam to their earlier recordings, ”Amphipacifica” seems to have more dull parts than, say, 2007's “Cloud Nine”. The record seems at least 15 minutes too long and the uninspired drums drag down the energy crafted by the veteran guitarists. It's hard to point out what this album is missing. The easy answer is ”About 4-5 additional musicians”
, but the suspense, timeless sound and instrumental dedication usually found on a Burnt Hills' release is my best bet.
When a band with so many great recordings in its back catalog spits out a new album, one sadly has to compare the release to the bands former masterpieces. Burnt Hills is still a lot better than most stuff out there, but if one sees this album as an indicator of which direction the band is currently headed, it's a little disappointing. All in all, it sounds like a lot of fun and I usually love records that have that vibe, but this is not another great record by the New England pack. 5/10 -- Tobias Corell (22 July, 2009)