Fans of Dot Hacker have more or less been counting down the days since the news the band was ready to release their full length album Inhibition on May 1st. I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy for review and I have to say that it was well worth the wait. Established fans excuse me while I initiate the newcomers with a bit of info and then on to my review.
Created in 2008, Dot Hacker is a collaborative effort from musicians that you probably already know, or unknowingly know. First off there is lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Josh Klinghoffer who is currently in the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Klinghoffer replaced long time friend, collaborator, and John Frusciante/Ataxia band mate…er, John Frusciante in the Chili Peppers as guitarist. Klinghoffer was also a studio musician for several artists as well as a live touring player for Beck, PJ Harvey, and Gnarls Barkley, of which the rest of the band derives from.
Guitarist/keys/backing Vocalist Clint Walsh will be a more familiar name to Tweaker fans. If you were a big Nine Inch Nails fan chances are likely that his name will click with you simply for the connection that Tweaker head Chris Vrenna was a former NIN band mate and Walsh was made a permanent fixture in Tweaker during the bands second release recordings. Walsh also played with Jack Off Jill, The Dwarves, and Psychotica.
Bassist Jonathan Hischke also played bass in Broken Bells and toured with Hella and did session work for Norah Jones, Rilo Kiley, and Bright Eyes (to name a few).
Finally the band closes out with drummer Eric Gardner whose worked with The Motels, Gnarls Barkley, and Monsters Are Waiting.
So there you go. You’ve either heard of them or you’ve inadvertently heard them play through other artists somewhere, at some point. With that being said it seems like more then a miracle that the band was able to come together and get this album done.
My first impression of Dot Hacker was that they mixed shoegazer vocals with a small dose of grunge and a touch of something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on (probably because that something else is the bands ability to spread their sound so wide), but which made the music sound unique enough for me to feel familiar with it, yet refreshing. It was never quite too soft nor was it too hard. It simply, was.
Track one, Order/Disorder is a hold over from the bands teaser EP released in February. It has a prominent bass presence, playful guitars, and simple drums with Klinghoffer quickly establishing his vocal style as being soft toned but explosive when called for. It’s a good opening track to the album which is pretty straight forward before stepping into the more experimental tone of the album.
Track two, Idleidolidyl begins with a very ominous piano intro that sets the mood with spazzy Kid A type drums and actually quite beautiful vocals. In contrast with the anxiety of the tracks sound, which dips in and out of dark and light tones, the vocal work really sets an ambient feel to the track as whole. I spent a lot of time with this track just looping it and sitting back and letting it carry me to wherever. It’s a stand out tune.
Eye Opener is yet another hold over from the bands EP. No matter how many times I listen to it I can’t shake the feeling that this track could have come off an early Smashing Pumpkins album. It’s very relaxed and familiar, but again it has a refreshing quality to it that doesn’t allow the track to become stagnant in it’s nostalgic factor.
Discotheque opens up on a very Lol Tolhurst drum intro that reminded me of The Hanging Garden to be honest. The drum intro is very short lasting a little more then half a minute. The rest of the track goes in a direction that really tests the experimental grounds of the bands sound. There’s a heavy synth presence in the track with Klinghoffer’s vocals sounding a bit manipulated and an infectious bass groove and drum sequence that will keep you busy tapping your toes. That formula bleeds over into the next track, Be Leaving, but with more of an 80’s appeal.
All in all the album is a solid release that will remind listeners of journey’s they’ve taken with bands like The Smashing Pumpkins (Gish), Sonic Youth (Rather Ripped), and more. You’ll get nostalgic at times but the eerily good placement of random sounds on the album and the seemingly perfect construction of the albums core sound as a whole will have you coming back to listen or simply throw on at the end of a rough day to relax to. Either way you’ll have your mind blown. As always final judgment is yours. Enjoy.