Henry Kaiser / Killick Hinds – Nikola Tesla High School


Separated by twenty years of age, Henry Kaiser and Killick Hinds – the latter of the quarter tone guitar and H’arpeggione, not exactly a Segovia alumnus if you get my point – find a common improvisational ground in eight tracks containing duets performed on the same instruments: two Teuffel Tesla guitars, alternatively ravaged in amplified/heavily processed settings and “merely” picked acoustically (namely, close-miking them without other intrusions in the signal flow).

Both artists display an improbable array of collaborations in their CVs, and the importance of Kaiser for each of us applicant creative geniuses on the six (or more) strings is well known. Albums like Aloha or It’s A Wonderful Life are still treasured in this house. Hence, it’s quite safe to declare that Nikola Tesla High School will mostly appeal to that (a)social segment: 70 minutes of textural impairment, electric adulteration, overdriven propulsion, post-Beefheart folk blues and hyperkinetic variations on the pitch transpose/digital delay axis are not edible for just everybody.

Expanding the perimeters of shapes and tones is the duo’s forte. Rare are the moments in which the music seems to stagnate a bit in search of new bizarre itineraries to follow, whereas a combination of rose-cheeked psychopathy and trippy exuberance pervades the most exhilarating excerpts. There’s a very long chapter called “Lamarck” where every attempt to keep a rationale at work is altogether futile, as we’re inexorably submerged by a huge tide of resonant grumbles, scattered discordances and filthy chordal inebriation that almost let us see the orange of glowing valves and perceive the typical smell of dampness and hot cables in a subterranean rehearsal space.

At any rate, avoiding overly analytic conceptualizations is the rule of thumb in this case; furthermore, this is probably the best recent material involving Kaiser in a good while. Not suitable as conversation background, excellent instead for generating a lot of optimistic racket.