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Samples
Herd of Instinct
Herman's Wolf Band
Ari Hest
Hexvessel
High Chair
High Dials
Hikashu
Hitchcock's Regret
Will Hoge
David Holmes
Hope of the States
Horrors
Hotel Alexis
Human Abstract
Romain Humeau
Hypnos 69

Herd of Instinct  (US)

Herd of Instinct, 'Herd of Instinct'

Herd of Instinct  (2011,  46.11)  ***½

Transformation
Room Without Shadows
Road to Asheville
Hex
Blood Sky
Anamnesis
Vibrissa
Possession
S. Karma
The Face of Another
Herd of Instinct, 'Conjure'

Conjure  (2013,  52.53)  ***½

Praxis
Dead Leaf Echo
Brutality of Fact
Alice Krige pt.1
Solitude One
Ravenwood
Mother Night
Vargtimmen
Malise
New Lands
A Sense of an Ending
The Secret of Fire

Current availability:

Texans Herd of Instinct began as a guitar synth/Warr guitar (similar to a Stick)/drums trio, releasing their eponymous debut on Djam Karet's Firepool Records in 2011, featuring guest appearances from Karet guitarist Gayle Ellett, and drummers Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) and Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), amongst others. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like a conflation of its collaborators' day jobs, particularly Discipline-era Crimso (Warr/Stick players mostly end up sounding like Tony Levin), although the sequencer line on Hex stands out from the pack. Ellett is credited with Mellotron on Blood Sky, although the handful of string chords here and there don't really convince, despite his use on earlier Djam Karet releases.

By 2013's Conjure, Ellett had become a 'regular' member, bringing the band up to a quartet. The album shows considerable progression from their debut, material like sparse opener Praxis, the slightly neo-proggish Dead Leaf Echo and the rhythmic Alice Krige Pt.1 standing apart from Herd of Instinct's relatively unvarying approach. This time round, the 'Mellotron' string, choir and flute on Mother Night and strings on Vargtimmen are clearly sampled, especially obvious on the melody string line on the former.

So; two good albums, but what has happened to Djam Karet's Mellotron? I think we should be told.

Official site

See: Djam Karet

Herman's Wolf Band  (Bulgaria)

Herman's Wolf Band, 'IV'

IV  (1999,  56.21)  ***

Demon's Ways
Free Spirit
An Eastern Mood...
...Moves the Existension (of)...
...The Mahler's Samadhi
How You're Doing Man
Big Wild Joe
Doo Doo Song
Idle Words Written on a Cloudy Sky
Night Rainbow
Hard Rock Man
Something Like...
...A Hypothetical...
...Permanent Violence...
...Turns Back My Spoonk (to)...
...Something Like Reprise and Coda
Empty Eyeballs
Reykjavik
Black Soul Blues

Current availability:

Herman's Wolf Band are a Bulgarian rock/soul/blues combo (and a remarkably authentic one at that), if you can imagine such a thing. 1999's IV (originally released on cassette) is a sprawling, genre-bending effort, much of it sounding like Stax label outtakes from the early '70s; quite a trick, all things considered. One of its more interesting features is its pair of 'suites', the three-part An Eastern Mood... and the five-part Something Like..., to name them for their initial sections. The six-minute former shifts through psych and folk moods in reasonably pleasing style, while the eleven-minute latter encroaches on vaguely Focus-esque progressive territory, complete with some pseudo-classical moves and virtuoso piano work. Quite bizarre, if welcome. Incidentally, although I suspect vocalist Dimitar (Doockie) Philipov's cried of, "I'm a nigger!", on closer Black Soul Blues are intended humorously (?!), I'm afraid they merely come across as jaw-droppingly crass. Perhaps overt racism wasn't considered bad taste in '90s Bulgaria?

Keys man Hristo Namliev is credited with Mellotron, but if the murky strings on ...Moves The Existension (Of)... turn out to be a real machine, I'll be utterly stunned. The samples (seemingly layered with a pseudo-Vox or Farfisa) are more apparent on Idle Words Written On A Cloudy Sky, with more strings on ...A Hypothetical..., amongst other possible usage. Overall, then, a rather schizophrenic release that might appeal to prog fans for its 'suites' and to (original) R'n'B aficionados for the rest. Incidentally, the CD version adds four tracks from rare, early cassette-only releases. Surely better to reissue them complete?

MySpace

Ari Hest  (US)

Ari Hest, 'Sunset Over Hope Street'

Sunset Over Hope Street  (2011,  41.26)  **½

Until Next Time
How Would I Know
A Way Back Home
Business of America
One Track Mind
If I Knew You'd Say Yes
Sunset Over Hope Street
Down the Mountain
Give it Time
Swan Song
A Good Look Around
[Bonus track:
Harmony]

Current availability:

Bronx native Ari Hest has been releasing records since 1999, 2011's Sunset Over Hope Street being something like his eighth full-lengther. If ever someone fell into the category 'singer-songwriter', it's Hest; although the bulk of the album's material is musically rather dull (occasional exceptions include One Track Mind and the fiddle-driven Swan Song), his lyrics are spot-on, often transcending the usual 'boy-meets-girl' nonsense (SURELY that particular vein has been mined to death by now?), better examples including Business Of America and the title track, all delivered in his best 'Mr. Smoke-too-much' voice.

Hest is credited with Mellotron, but the far too smooth flutes on Business Of America yell 'samples!' at me. So; rather ordinary singer-songwriter stuff, unless you're enthralled by lyrics and not so bothered about the actual music. Sounds like sampled Mellotron, too.

Official site

Hexvessel  (Finland)

Hexvessel, 'Vainolainen' 7"  (2012)  ****

Vainolainen
Preacher's Orchard

Current availability:

Led by Mat McNerney, Hexvessel are a multi-member Finnish psychedelic folk outfit, whose 2012 single, Vainolainen (b/w Preacher's Orchard), is a beautiful evocation of that country's forested landscape, reminding me slightly of the quieter end of Anekdoten's early work (similar influences?), although the flip has, at least to my ears, more of an early '70s British 'wyrd folk' thing going on.

McNerney is credited with Mellotron on Vainolainen, although a reliable informant tells me it's sampled. Nonetheless, there's a lovely flute part running through the track, which really doesn't suffer from not actually featuring a full-blown, genuine Mellotron. Well worth hearing.

Official site

High Chair  (UK)

High Chair, 'Diamond Mind'

Diamond Mind  (2005,  64.05)  ***½

Midheaven
Over the Moon
Diamond Mind
Venus Kiss
Saturn Return

Current availability:

Billy Surgeoner was keyboard player/vocalist/guitarist with The Mynd, one of many club-level British progressive acts of the '70s who never scored that all-important deal or released anything in their lifetime. Twenty five years later, High Chair are his ambient solo project, sitting somewhere inbetween the quieter end of Tangerine Dream and any number of new age synth albums, its probable highpoint being lengthy closer Saturn Return, featuring a discordant part that makes it stand out from its neighbours.

Unsurprisingly, Billy assures me he used Mellotron samples, his own machine having been sold decades ago; Over The Moon opens with a samplotron flute part with more of the same on the title track and choirs on Saturn Return, all used to reasonable effect. Is this worth buying? (Amazon have copies in stock). Saturn Return aside, it's immensely relaxing and far better at being so than most albums specifically made for that purpose, while its final track is well worth hearing for EM fans, managing to sound like no-one else in particular, which is quite a feat in that genre.

See: The Mynd

High Dials  (Canada)

High Dials, 'Anthems for Doomed Youth'

Anthems for Doomed Youth  (2010,  39.33)  ***

Teenage Love Made Me Insane
I'm Over You (I Hope it's True)
Uruguay
I Was, You Were
Chinese Boxes
The Rich Die Too...
Mysterio
What You Call Love is a Lie
Snowed in
Bedroom Shadows

Current availability:

Despite being largely English-speaking, The High Dials actually formed in Montréal, Québec. Often described as 'indie', their sound is more powerpop, although their previous psych tendencies seem to've been largely reined in, sadly, on their fourth full-lengther, 2010's Anthems for Doomed Youth. The one obvious exception is the jammed-out Mysterio, other decent tracks including opener Teenage Love Made Me Insane and I'm Over You (I Hope It's True).

Guitarist Robbie MacArthur is credited with Mellotron, with flutes and strings on The Rich Die Too... and strings on Snowed In, but the too-fast flute trill on the former and the general murkiness of the latter, not to mention the way-over-eight-seconds-long notes make it highly likely that we're occupying Sample City here. So, not bad, but despite the album's relative brevity, the quality of its material slackens off as it progresses. No real Mellotron by the sound of it, but worth hearing for powerpop fans.

Official site

Hikashu  (Japan)

Hikashu, 'Teichona Omotenashi'

Teichona Omotenashi  (1990,  50.34)  ***

Kashiwade
Teichona Omotenashi
Daikoukai
Saezuri
Waga Kuni
Yume no Hanashi
Chimera
Atman
Inori
Hinata Poko
Utaenai Uta

Current availability:

Hikashu were never quite as experimental as revisionist Japanese music fans would like us to think, being more of a new wave/synthpop act than anything. Saying that, 1990's Teichona Omotenashi is actually a quirky pop/rock album, far better than their early '80s work, highlights including the lengthy Daikoukai, the choppy Waga Kuni and the atmospheric Chimera.

Someone (probably Makoto Inoue) plays what are, for the time, excellent Mellotron samples on several tracks, with lush strings on Daikoukai, a string line on Chimera (samples obvious from the low notes and the overly-stretched one on the fade) and dark chordal strings on Inori, plus chordal flutes on closer Utaenai Uta. If you feel the urge to delve into Hikashu's catalogue, while this may not be your best starting-point, it's certainly a better bet than their better-known albums.

Official site

See: Hikashu

Hitchcock's Regret  (Australia)

Hitchcock's Regret, 'Her Life in Reverse'

Her Life in Reverse  (2003,  45.44)  ***

How I Wish You Were Her
She's Looking Through Me
She's All That I Think About
Space & Time
Tripping on a Wire
Alfred's Delight etc.
In the Summer
Don't Wait
Bitter
Milkwood Moon
JozyBeck Blues
Salisbury
The Girl Who Came in From the Cold

Current availability:

Hitchcock's Regret are an Aussie indie/psych/powerpop outfit, not entirely dissimilar to The Church (a member of whom played on their next album), whose second release, 2003's Her Life in Reverse, actually improves as it progresses after a slightly ropey start, shifting between the '60s-ish All That I Think About, the dynamic, riffy Tripping On A Wire (best track?), the acoustic In The Summer and the countryish Milkwood Moon, amongst other musical diversions.

Paul Grant is credited with 'Mellotron', although producer Michael Carpenter's sleevenotes explicitly refer to 'Mellotron sounds', not to mention Sampletank. Anyway, Grants plays flutes on opener How I Wish You Were Her, choirs on Alfred's Delight Etc. and what might be MkII flute phrases on the brief, untitled 'joke' track at the end of the record, while Carpenter adds vibes and background strings to She's All That I Think About (spot the Beach Boys-esque a capella intro). Overall, then, a pretty decent effort, if possibly not individual enough to really cut it on the world stage, although that never stopped a host of other moderately successful acts, did it? One for Church fans, then. There's more Mellotron credited on their follow-up, 2005's Endless Intermission, but after this, it has to be suspect. More news when I get to hear a copy.

MySpace

Will Hoge  (US)

Will Hoge, 'The Wreckage'

The Wreckage  (2009,  40.12)  ***

Hard to Love
Long Gone
The Wreckage
Favorite Waste of Time
Even if it Breaks Your Heart
What Could I Do
Goodnight/Goodbye
Just Like Me
Highway Wings
Where Do We Go From Down
Too Late Too Soon

Current availability:

Will Hoge went solo in the late '90s, producing at least an album a year since; he employed Dan Baird (ex-Georgia Satellites) early on, which has to be worth something. 2009's The Wreckage is titled in honour of Hoge's survival after an appalling road accident, consisting mainly of a slightly poppy take on Americana (the album, not the accident). He actually opens the album with its most irritating track, Hard To Love, probably because it's also (and uncoincidentally) the most 'commercial', but most of its material is worth hearing, at least within its genre.

Jen Gunderman is credited with Mellotron, with a nicely full-on string part on What Could I Do, but its generally anodyne sound, combined with a final note that holds for over twelve seconds, gives the sample game away. So; not bad, not great, one for Americana fans who haven't yet run into Hoge.

Official site

David Holmes  (UK)

David Holmes, 'Lets Get Killed'

Lets Get Killed  (1997,  59.21)  **½

Listen
My Mate Paul
Lets Get Killed
Gritty Shaker
Head Rush on Lafayette
Rodney Yates
Radio 7
The Parcus & Madder Show
Slashers Revenge
Freaknik
Caddell Returns
Don't Die Just Yet
For You

Current availability:

David Holmes is a Northern Irish (note: not Irish) DJ who moved into making albums in the early '90s, around the same time as his contemporaries on the mainland. His style incorporates found sound, programming and film soundtracks, making for an eclectic mix that may appeal to those with an electronica bent. Lets Get Killed (sic) was his second album, which shifts from the faux-'60s-via-'90s My Mate Paul (apparently a hit), through pseudo-lounge and the James Bond theme to the near-prog of Don't Die Just Yet, all intercut with New York street sounds and dialogue.

With no credited Mellotron, it's no great surprise to realise that the 'Tron choirs on Don't Die Just Yet are sampled, and not very well at that (maybe that's the point?). Overall, then, one for people who like to go to middling trendy clubs, or did in the late '90s, when I believe there was a brief lounge revival, for no obviously good reason. Good at what it does, but if you don't like what it does, that's of little use.

Official site

See: David Holmes

Hope of the States  (UK)

Hope of the States, 'Left'

Left  (2006,  51.53)  *½

Seconds
Blood Meridian
Sing it Out
Bonfires
The Good Fight
Left
Industry
This is a Question
Little Silver Birds
Four
January
Forwardirektion
The Church Choir

Current availability:

Hope of the States (from an obscure 1930s American paper on mental health) were a south coast-based post-rock/pop band who released two albums in the mid-'00s, 2004's The Lost Riots and Left, two years later. Frankly, this stuff is bloody awful; an over-emoting radio-friendly version of 'crescendo rock' - guess what combining two rubbish styles makes? The horrible American-accented vocals don't help, either; you're from Chichester, guys...

Guitarist Anthony Theaker and vocalist Samuel J. Herlihy both doubled on keys, including alleged Mellotron, although I'll be stunned to discover that the choirs on Sing It Out, the flutes on closer The Church Choir or the generic (or real) strings on several tracks had anything to do with Mellotrons; this barely makes it into 'samples'... Anyway, the band split in 2006, so at least we're not going to be assaulted with any more of this stuff. The only reason it gets as 'high' a star rating as it does is that it didn't actually make me feel violent.

Horrors  (UK)

Horrors, 'Skying'

Skying  (2011,  53.57)  **½

Changing the Rain
You Said
I Can See Through You
Endless Blue
Dive in
Still Life
Wild Eyed
Moving Further Away
Monica Gems
Oceans Burning

Current availability:

The Horrors' third album, 2011's Skying, falls between several indie-related stools, notably goth and shoegaze, with two tracks, Moving Further Away and closer Oceans Burning both heading for long-form post-rock territory. Ten tracks in over fifty minutes, however, brings up the thorny 'track length' issue: yup, several efforts here definitely exceed their optimum length, although I appreciate why the two previously-named tracks are as long as they are.

Either keys man Tom Furse or bassist Rhys Webb (let's face it, it doesn't matter all that much) adds fairly obvious samplotron strings to opener Changing The Rain, although any other vaguely Mellotronic sounds almost certainly aren't. Well, I've heard worse current indie-ish stuff, but that isn't really much of a recommendation, is it?

Official site

Hostsonaten  (Italy)  see:

Hostsonaten

Hotel Alexis  (US)

Hotel Alexis, 'The Shining Example is Lying on the Floor'

The Shining Example is Lying on the Floor  (2004,  39.07)  ***

The Season for Working
Comeback Kid
It's Obvious Now
Broken Sparrow
Superman & Vitamins
Blue in the Blackout
The Quiet Life
Dapper Dan
My August Name
OK
I Will Arrange for You to Fall
Queens & the Soft King
Hotel Alexis, 'Goliath, I'm on Your Side'

Goliath, I'm on Your Side  (2004,  64.35)  ***

Soft Soft War
San Diego Backslide
I Will Arrange for You to Fall II
Thicket
Suddenly, It's You & Me
The Silent One
Sister Ray
Silver Waves Crash Through the Canyons
Owl
Hummingbird/Indian Dog
The Range
The Devil Knows My Handle
Oh, the Loneliness
Our Good Captain

Current availability:

The Hotel Alexis is essentially a one-man band comprising Sidney Alexis a.k.a. Sidney Lindner. His debut, 2004's The Shining Example is Lying on the Floor, could well be described as 'dusty'; its contents largely drumless, mournful vignettes overlaid by Alexis/Lindner's fragile tenor. Sometimes this kind of stuff works amazingly well; I'm not sure that this is one of those times, but maybe the album requires more detailed listening than I really have time to give it. Rumoured Mellotron, with two interweaving flute parts throughout The Season For Working that just don't sound 'real' enough, to my ears, so samples it is unless proven otherwise.

Three years on and the less murky Goliath, I'm on Your Side expands Alexis/Lindner's sonic palette with full-on Americana (The Devil Knows My Handle), drone rock (the enormously lengthy Hummingbird/Indian Dog) and vibraphone-driven ambient (Oh, The Loneliness), although the bulk of the album sounds like a better-produced version of his debut. After an entirely 'Tron(sample)-free 62 minutes, two minutes from the end of closer Our Good Captain those flutes appear again, still sounding a little bit too good to be true.

So; albums for when you'd like a little peace and quiet, but not enough to switch off your stereo. Very little 'Mellotron' content, which may yet be proven to be real, though I'd be surprised.

Human Abstract  (US)

Human Abstract, 'Midheaven'

Midheaven  (2008,  43.45)  **½

A Violent Strike
Procession of the Fates
Breathing Life Into Devices
This World is a Tomb
Metanoia
The Path
Echoes of the Spirit
Calm in the Chaos
Counting Down the Days
A Dead World at Sunrise

Current availability:

The Human Abstract are an L.A.-based power metal band with nu-metal aspects (largely in the mostly non-sung vocals), with all the silliness and unoriginality that entails. Saying that, I've heard far worse albums than their second, 2008's Midheaven, but it's all just so... uninspiring. High-speed twin guitar leads? Check. Mucho sweep-picking? Check. Overblown lyrical concept? Check. Originality is, sadly, at a premium. At least it's a sensible length.

Credited 'Mellotron' from Sean Leonard, although it all sounds muffled and sampley, so I think it's safe to assume it's fake. Anyway, strings on several tracks, including Metanoia, The Path and A Dead World At Sunrise and choirs on Calm In The Chaos, which, along with the (fake?) Hammond, help to make the album more palatable, but this isn't exactly a classic of the genre, I'm afraid.

MySpace

Romain Humeau  (France)

Romain Humeau, 'L'Éternité de l'Instant'

L'Éternité de l'Instant  (2005,  57.08)  **½

Beauté du Diable
Prends Ma Main
Sans Faire Exprès
Toi
Je M'en Irai pour Toujours
S'Enflammer
Une Vie Invisible
L'Éternité de l'Instant
Chien Enragé
Leurs Echines
Possédés
La Mort Sifflera Trois Fois

Current availability:

2005's L'Éternité de l'Instant is French singer-songwriter Romain Humeau's fifth studio album, slotting fairly neatly into a passable pop/rock groove, although by 'passable', what I actually mean is 'not actively offensive'. This really isn't a very exciting album at all, despite its uptempo numbers, surprising eight-minute intense closer La Mort Sifflera Trois Fois being about the best thing here. Pity Humeau has to start intoning (rather than singing) at all, really.

Humeau is credited with Mellotron, but I have serious doubts as to how genuine it might be, the handful of possible parts all sounding like, well, something else, really. We'll call it 'samples', but it could be almost anything.

Official site

Hypnos 69  (Belgium)

Hypnos 69, 'The Eclectic Measure'

The Eclectic Measure  (2006,  48.21)  ***½

I and You and Me (I)
The Eclectic Measure
Forgotten Souls
My Ambiguity of Reality
The Antagonist
Halfway to the Stars
I and You and Me (II)
Ominous (But Fooled Before)
The Point of No Return
Deus Ex Machina
Hypnos 69, 'Legacy'

Legacy  (2010,  72.33)  ***

Requiem (for a Dying Creed)
An Aerial Architect
My Journey to the Stars
The Sad Destiny We Lament
The Empty Hourglass
Jerusalem
The Great Work

Current availability:

Hypnos 69 are a Belgian psych/prog outfit who used (apparently real) Mellotron on their third album, 2004's The Intrigue of Perception. Two years on, the fittingly-titled The Eclectic Measure appeared, sounding nearly as, er, eclectic as its predecessor, highlights including the trippy title track, the gentle My Ambiguity Of Reality, Halfway To The Stars and closer Deus Ex Machina, although there's nothing here that disappoints. Tellingly, although there's a 'Mellotron' credit on The Intrigue of Perception, there's no such thing here and the sample use is given away almost immediately with the 'infinite sustain' 'Tron strings on the title track. Strings and/or flutes on most other tracks, top marks going to the full-on strings on Halfway To The Stars; this would probably have been a TTTT had it been real.

They followed up, slightly belatedly, with 2010's Legacy, an album that veers between moments of brilliance (the first two minutes of 'side-long' opener Requiem (For A Dying Creed)) to long minutes of jammed-out semi-tedium (notably the sax solo in Jerusalem). This is yet another case of 'could've done with an editor': over seventy minutes is a lot of music, even when an artist hasn't released an album for some time and Hypnos 69 don't quite have the chops to sustain interest for that long. Reasonable levels of fakeotron strings and choir, although I'm not sure if you'd notice were they not there.

So; The Eclectic Measure's a cool modern psych album with loads of fakeotron, well worth hearing, although Legacy's a bit of a disappointment.

Official site

See: Hypnos 69


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