Music Reviews
Micah P Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs

Micah P Hinson Micah P Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs

(Full Time Hobby) Rating - 9/10

I had a rather strange introduction to Micah P Hinson. Around late 2006, in my more hedonistic university days, shall we say, I had a night out with some friends which consisted of essentially drinking a lot and taking a bunch of drugs. This continued into the small hours until supplies were diminished around six or seven in the morning. After some unanswered phone calls were made someone pointed out that his housemate had some acid in his room. We then consumed the acid for breakfast, the first six hours or so were a hoot, but then the energy reserves burnt out and that mindset of ‘I want this to be over now’ kicked in. After previously trying this particular type of acid, I knew we had a good ten-twelve hours left of this. Knowing this combined with a defeated mind-set is not always the best move with acid. Me and my friend laid around wishing it away, not freaking out, but whereas the land of the demented and broken was a far away horizon line some hours ago, it was now only a few precarious steps away, and we both knew this. A few hours passed, in warm and ethereal waves, you think it’s passing and then it washes over you again like it’s hit you for the first time. Conversation was sparse and we merely exchanged frazzled and exhausted glances of disillusion. I knew my exam that I had the next day was a goner, which was always playing in the back of my mind. I don’t remember what music we listened to until my friend got up and put on a CD I had never heard. The CD in question was Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress. The rich, resonant voice seeped through the speakers like it was molten lava, the density and warmth of it was like someone throwing a blanket over me. The personal feel that the album exuded was one that stuck with me, in my moment of discontent it was almost as though he was reaching out a hand. His tortured and tormented croons seemed to speak straight to me, and it was at that moment I realised, ‘hey this is going to be okay, just relax’. From that moment on, it wasn’t all roses but i approached and accepted what was going on with a reinvigorated sense of perspective. I wouldn’t go as far to say ‘Micah P Hinson saved me from an acid induced breakdown’ but he certainly leant a helping hand in guiding me back to sanity. That record still to this day is of incredible significance and poignancy to me.

His follow ups, Micah P Hinson and the Opera Circuit and Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra both had moments that shined, but never quite as bright as his debut. However, Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs see the intensity and stark beauty return in full form.

His new LP opens with A Call To Arms a sweeping instrumental that wouldn’t sound of out place on a Dirty Three record. The strings are lush and penetrating, yet retain a subtlety that is ever-present throughout the rest of the album. As the opening vocals of Sweetness sprout, you could instantly think it’s Richard Hawley - that texture sodden croon the drifts and hangs. However, it’s worth pointing out that Hinson is still only in his twenties - his voice exudes a sense of torture and worn-life normally attributed to someone closer to receiving his pension not his driving licence. Seven Horses Seen is an affecting look back at his friend killing himself and serves to highlight the emotively inducing qualities of Hinson’s voice, as it transports you almost physically.

The album continues in a typically mournful manner and possesses an almost eerie quality that runs through its core like a lost spirit. Some of the instrumental work is as haunting and piercing as the vocal takes, The Cross That Stole The Heart Away is almost devastating in its effect. All the arrangements continue to fall into place, almost seamlessly on the record. But even when things are stripped back and laid bare such as My God, My God, it works just as well, if not better. There is a fluidity that travels through the album, subsequently creating a sense of journey; whereas some previous Hinson efforts have felt a little more disjointed in their offerings – acting more like a bumpy road with no sign posts.

Things close with The Returning which again is an instrumental, bookending the album to vastly opposing sonic landscapes, almost trapping the contents of the album between them, like guards patrolling a border. Here we have a smorgasbord of sonic assaults that resembles more the workings of shoe-gaze than roots music. However, it doesn’t bloviate and become superfluous as a result; instead it’s an interesting direction and a new pasture that Hinson is stepping into it. After the heights of the feedback and noise is reached the comedown kicks in, as the strings re-enter almost acting as the opposite of a death rattle, instead we leave the album in a place of solace.