You would think that a recording entitled ‘Hell on Earth’ would be a bit hard on the ears. After all, such a phrase has immediate associations: Despair, torment, suffering, darkness, pain, agony and damnation. In fact, it’s the kind of title a doom band would use in all seriousness, or the kind employed by those evil geniuses behind Metalocalypse in their quest to satirise the entire genre.
But instead, Hell on Earth by Dali Vision is a bright and shiny affair.
One of many side-projects by Ari Finkel – a producer/multi-instrumentalist who, in his own words, ‘bounces between New York and New Jersey’ – the music released under the moniker Dali Vision combines elements of experimental, electronica, post-rock and lounge, with the result being a sound that vacillates between joy and contemplation. Dreamy, trebly guitar licks sit alongside synthesiser squiggles; plastic-funk keyboards do their thing alongside slippery bass lines; the studio-as-instrument provides glitches and wonk in abundance, fluid and malleable and wriggly; the contribution of guest-drummer Evan Shortstein lends the whole thing an airy and soulful vibe, his playing restrained enough to let the rest of the music breathe while still providing plenty of real funk.
Opening track ‘No Hay Banda’ begins with a glassy swirl of noise akin to the end of The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life,’ perhaps the only thing on the record that even comes close to the description hellish, before resolving into a washy slice of reflective post-rock. ‘Blue Hell’ is a stop-start jitter-funk wonder, filled with ear-candy and guaranteed to have your hips a-swinging. ‘Stunt Double’ is a radical departure – more a soundscape than an actual song, its studio trickery and goose-shit-slick production ensure that it stays consistent with the pieces around it. ‘Inanimate’ balances a pastoral scope and a psychedelic haze with a master-class in breakbeat drumming, all starts and stops atop a half-time groove.
Hell on Earth is funky enough to please the dancers and weird enough to please the chin-strokers – now that’s saying something.