Loving HELLA by Daniel O'Brien-Bravi

The seventh installment in the tribute to Hella is written by Daniel O'Brien-Bravi. He has been creating music for fifteen years and currently plays bass in the groups Pluvial and Gallons. He also has a solo project called That Instrument. Daniel's love and knowledge of music are incalculable. To find out more about him, check his tumblr site and Pluvial on facebook.

"I’d finally found what I’d been looking for. I was working at a well-respected record store at the time when “Hold your horse is,” opened my eyes. Hella, which now personifies a type of music, a permanent timeline marker, and a lifestyle, was one of forks in roads. “Hold your horse is” would mean nothing to me, were it not for these forked roads.

I was raised playing classical music as a symphonically-trained trumpet player. It was a challenge to memorize and play concertos, with all of their energy and detail. This interest, this unwavering discipline within music and its structure, is integral to any subsequent interest I could have in music. The aggression that such tedium and proficiency conjured was also integral. I would search for these beloved aspects of classical music in contemporary bands for years. As a result of [what we know consider] math rock being a subgenre of a subgenre at the time, I had no idea where to look for it, let alone know that it existed. I found small amounts of solace in technical metal bands, which lacked the melodic aspect of classical music that I yearned for. It then occurred to me that what I was searching for was widely to be considered more experimental. So, digging into experimental music led me down fork after fork in the roads of genres of music. I knew what I was looking for, I knew that when I heard it, I would be able to finally exhale.

Eventually I found myself working at the aforementioned record store. We did our ordering through a distributor whose system automatically recommended bands based on what we had been ordering. Hella popped up as one of these recommendations, and there were two titles available. “Hold your horse is,” and “The devil isn’t red.” I’d heard this band mentioned by friends, and they weren’t fond of it. “Too electronic,” they’d say, or “they’re too weird.” I decided to look into them myself, and I usually did this via Youtube. There were several live videos available, none of which were anything close to “too electronic” or “weird.” I was starting to think I had the wrong band, or more importantly, the wrong friends. Using the track listing for “Hold your horse is,” I started searching youtube for song titles, quickly realizing that something significant was happening. Video after video of these two men went by in a blur, every one depicting musicianship that absolutely defines tenacity and discipline. My heart was racing, but ever the skeptical one, I thought that perhaps their live show was some shredfest-showoff-wankery that couldn’t possibly by composed, recorded, and replayed the same way every time. I ordered a copy of “Hold your horse is” at that moment. When it arrived the next day, I unwrapped it and put it on over the store speakers. I hadn’t been able to find any videos of the opener, “The D. Elkan,” so I had no idea what to expect. Lo and behold, it was... electronic. It was entirely electronic. What a let down, I thought. As I stood there, reading the rest of the song titles, trying to figure out if I’d been watching videos of a couple of unsigned pranksters who maybe covered a whole album of Hella’s electronic ditties, “biblical violence” unleashed some violence of biblical proportions upon my ears. I finally exhaled. I finally found what I’d been looking for in music. It wasn’t like starting a new chapter of music, nor was it like starting a whole new book. It was like discovering that books EXIST, books FULL of chapters. It was profound in a way that hasn’t been rivaled since. Needless to say, “Hold your horse is” was played on repeat for the rest of the day, and most of each shift for the next several weeks. Essentially, until I knew it note for note, or as well as Zach and Spencer."

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