Finding Hidden Hospitals
I am always looking for new music to listen to. There is nothing more fun than discovering a new band and sharing your discovery with someone else who appreciates great music. Sometimes the search for new music can be daunting, but sometimes, if you’re lucky enough to write for a music magazine (like I am), new music can come to you. This is how I discovered what is now one of my new favorite bands. Often times I will share my articles, or articles by my friends here at Shutter16.com, on Twitter with the artists I’m writing about, or their fan club, etc. Sometimes the bands follow me back. Sometimes I get followed by bands I’ve never heard of. When I saw a message that “Hidden Hospitals is now following you,” I was immediately intrigued because the band’s name and media caught my attention. I followed them back, read up on them, and listened to their music. The music was so good that it inspired me to reach out to them. I did, and now I just have to share with all of you why you should follow and listen to this band as well by writing about them. I can’t help it. It’s a passion of mine.
“I usually search Twitter for music and follow for a while. I read your blog a bit,” states Hidden Hospitals singer/guitarist Dave Raymond over Twitter messenger to me. I’m pretty sure that he was referring to shutter16.com as a whole, of which my contributions are just a part of. A few short messages later and he’s thanking me for the interest in the band and talking to me about the next Hidden Hospitals album. We chat a little more and he sends me some more info and, at my request, gives me a direct quote that kind of serves, to me at least, as a perfect way to sum up his approach to writing music, and to Hidden Hospital’s sound:
“Quiet defines loud.”
At first I was a little taken aback. The quote seemed a little pretentious, but after listening to Hidden Hospital’s 2015 full length album release Surface Tension repeatedly, I totally get what Raymond was getting at. This simple declaration insightfully describes what gives Hidden Hospital’s songs their resonance and heft. There are plenty of quiet/loud moments in the songs on Surface Tension, but they are not the quiet/loud dichotomies that defined the sound of so many of the 1990s alt-rock bands, like The Smashing Pumpkins (whom Hidden Hospitals coincidentally share a hometown with in Chicago). Songs like “Trilogy” percolates along to electric guitar riffs and Raymond’s voice, only to erupt into a full on heavy guitar track, but the quiet buildup is not a hard break with the song’s finale. The song’s rhythms dominate here, not the guitar heroics. This is the case with most of the songs on Surface Tension. There really is a tension that exists between Raymond’s voice, the guitar riffs, and the rhythm section. The tension is only surface deep though, as with multiple listens the intricacies of the songs’ compositions reveal themselves to be not complicated, but so finely constructed as to be nearly perfect.
The heart of the album, and the song directly following “Trilogy”, is the powerful “Synesthesia.” Another highly rhythmic track in nature that uses its guitar track to create atmosphere more than trench plowing riffs. It’s a hard track that refrains from getting heavy. “Animals,” the very next track, and the one that concludes the trilogy of great songs that got started with (perhaps not so ironically) “Trilogy,” is another highly rhythm based track the makes similar use of the kind of guitar atmospherics as “Synesthesia” does, but is much heavier. Another album highlight is “Modern Saint,” a track that once again thrives on some really great rhythms, this time almost solely as the result of the percussion. “Modern Saint,” with its electronica elements really lend credence to the assertion that Hidden Hospitals is an “alternative progressive rock band” (see their short bio on Wikipedia). There are electronica elements in most all of the songs on Surface Tension, but they augment the band’s sound. They do not define it.
“I’m about 19 songs into a new full length and going strong. Looking to record early next year.” Raymond tells me later on in our correspondence. 19 songs is a great start for any artist undertaking the task of putting together an album of new material. I’m sure that fans will see signs from the band on Twitter or Facebook as they get closer to finishing their new project.
Social media definitely has its pros and cons. Movements can get started, and they aren’t always the kind of movement, or mob mentality, that actually advances our social experiment, but the flip side is that the same social media can provide a chance to find some really great music, people, and movements. My finding of Hidden Hospitals, or rather their finding of me, is one of those events that helps balance out the good with the bad on social media. Here’s hoping that those with the right kind of passions, like those Dave Raymond has towards his music-and that I like to think I have towards writing about music-continue to dominate the social media blogosphere.