The Lineup

Tomas Phillips and Craig Hilton

Raleigh, N.C.

The only problem with heavy metal is that no one seems to know exactly what it is. In a landscape of perpetually fracturing sub-genres, plenty of bands seem hellbent on satisfying the purists, if only to be allowed under the black umbrella. Gauchiste makes no such moves: While the trio’s music is intense, dark, and blindingly oppressive, the band isn’t necessarily vying for the iron-clad tag.

This is music with no obvious center, a blurred mass of amorphous drones. These are insular soundscapes built on heavily processed instruments, like the demented atmospheres of Chicago’s Locrian (minus the sharp angles) or the Neolithic macro-riffs of Sunn O))). Occasionally from the wash, a guitar or voice will briefly assert itself, or Gauchiste will drop the floor out with unexpected tectonic bass. These recognizable qualities quickly re-submerge into the digital soup of liminal rumbling.

“Few (heavy) bands would want to call attention to the fact that the computer is as much a defining factor of their sound as any other instrument,” RVA Magazine’s Graham Scala wrote in a glowing review of the self-titled LP. Scala found these aggressive atmospheres daring, progressive and unsettling. “It's like hearing an echo without the initial sound that initiated it—retaining some impression of the familiar without remaining too close to it.”

Craig Hilton and Tomas Phillips, the two members of Gauchiste who live in Raleigh, will play as a duo at Hopscotch. While both are accomplished musicians with decades-long careers in aggressive and experimental music, this current intersection in Gauchiste affords a fresh identity entirely. —Corbie Hill