Jun 2012 25

Black Hills - Black Gold EPBlack Hills
Category: Electro-pop / Shoegazer
Album: Black Gold EP
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Lush melodies and dreamy atmosphere intertwine on this beautiful if brief debut from a burgeoning new talent.


Hailing from Washington, DC, Black Hills offers a pleasant divergence from your typical electro-infused pop music. The solo project of Aaron Estes, the debut Black Gold EP presents a smooth and lush style that bustles with emotive melody and atmosphere. Case in point, “Glass” begins with a slow beat that has the cadence and feel of a vintage drum machine complemented by a trickle of guitar plucking and saccharine synth pads, evoking a feeling of some forgotten ’80s electro ballad. But then Estes’ vocal harmonies enter into the mix to add to the already sumptuous ambiance, his high tenor perfectly playing against subtly mixed e-bow guitars and a moderate keyboard solo, making for a beautifully airy song. Similarly, “In My Dreams” with its acoustic guitar and keyboard arpeggios intermingling with synthesized strings and Estes’ vocal melodies reminiscent of a ’60s ballad if covered by a ’90s shoegazer act. Picking up the pace is “Quiet Ghosts” with a bouncy beat and groovy if simple bass line, Estes giving a soulfully energetic delivery in the verses before the chorus bursts with spacey synths, jangling guitars, and some rather lovely harmonies that would surely make the Beatles green with envy. To close out the Black Gold EP is “The Good News” with its dramatic buildup of ethereal ambience, sparse percussion, and a melody that reminds this writer of Peter Gabriel’s more introspective moments. When the drums do finally boom through the speakers with a slow, rocking beat, it brings both song and EP to an effective and satisfying climax of electrified emotion. If anything negative is to be said of Black Gold, it is simply that it’s four tracks are painfully brief, showcasing just enough sonic and melodic variety to keep it from being the average shoegazing dreamscape that would usually wear out its welcome too soon. While not part of the EP, the Hypefactor remix of “Glass” on the Black Hills SoundCloud page acts as an excellent companion track, transforming the original’s slow dreaminess into an energetic display of electro rock. Even relegated to these four beautiful songs, the music of Black Hills is expansive and the production nuanced, leaving the listener pining for more that Estes will hopefully have to give in the future.
Track list:

  1. Glass
  2. In My Dreams
  3. Quiet Ghosts
  4. The Good News

Black Hills Facebook https://www.facebook.com/blackhillsblack
Black Hills SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/blackhills
Black Hills Bandcamp http://blackhillsblack.bandcamp.com
Ilker YĆ¼cel (Ilker81x)

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