Hula – “1000 Hours” (1986)

I’ve been on a bit of a Hula kick lately, which is odd considering that up until a few months ago I’d never heard of this industrial dance outfit from Sheffield. I came across four of their records over at Seattle’s Jive Time Records. They looked interesting, and a quick web search showed they’d be right up my alley. Then a few weeks ago I found two more of their records at Easy Street, so snagged those as well. So I went from having never heard of Hula to having six of their records in a pretty short amount of time.

I’ve already listened to five of them, two albums and three 12″ singles, but somehow never got motivated enough to post about them on the blog. I’m not sure why, other than that the over the last few months I haven’t been as interested in writing about what I’m listening to. That’s not to say I’m not listening to a ton of stuff, because I am. It’s also not to say my compulsion to write has diminished, because it hasn’t. I don’t have much in the way of an explanation other than sometimes it feels like I’m just writing the same words and using the same adjectives over and over again. For 2020 I’m thinking I might start posting less, but doing longer pieces. Or maybe it’ll be business as usual. Or maybe I’ll start collecting vintage matchbooks and start writing about those. I don’t know. I tend to get very intensely into a subject for about five years at a time. Sometimes I get a second five year run on the same thing, other times not. I’ve been doing Life in the Vinyl Lane for seven years (♠) now, so maybe this is just a speed bump (the “Seven Year Itch”?) and I have another solid three years of passion left in the tank. We’ll see.

But for now, back to Hula. There’s a good interview with them from 1985 reprinted online HERE, which you might enjoy for some background. 1000 Hours is a double album. The first record is live performance recorded in Amsterdam in early 1985 and it has more of an experimental feel than much of their studio work. The sensation is industrial, with metallic clanging and looping and trippy repetition. You get the sense that there’s a lot more happening up on that stage than can be conveyed by just the audio, and certainly Hula were known for using different kinds of media in their live performances. There’s definitely some intensity here, though the B side gets a bit funky as well. The recording quality is surprisingly good for this genre and period – you could just as easily assume this was studio work if it wasn’t for the occasional applause. The second record is a combo of various studio sessions, and while no less experimental than the live stuff it is more polished and produced, which is to be expected. The C side incorporates elements of funk and tribal beats to great effect, while the D side slows things down, especially on “Bribery and Winning Ways”. 1000 Hours is like hearing three completely different bands, and all of them are excellent.

(♠) I just about choked on my soda when I wrote that. Life in the Vinyl Lane began because I was talking to my buddy Tristen (technically Skyping) and we both were interested in starting blogs. So we both did pretty much right then and there. While his running blog is gone (which is too bad because he’s funny as hell), this is post #1,776 on Life in the Vinyl Lane. And if you’re an American 1776 is a special number, because it’s the year our founding fathers wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence. So maybe I still have more writing in my future after all…

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