The second half of Dot Hacker’s EP series, How’s Your Process? Play shows a band having fun twisting the standards of music. If How’s Your Process (Work) seemed like the dreamy part, Play is more the wildcard. There’s an organic feeling about this whole series that Play embodies that makes it great. There are different tempos and something that would satisfy the most avid palate of music fan. This is a band that can divvy into whatever direction they want on their own terms and still make it all work somehow.
The first track, “Sideclimb” starts Play off in a different direction. It takes act two into a more upbeat and danceable approach. Easily a song that could earn the band more into mainstream radio. It has these dreamy parts in the middle of the song that are reminiscent of a Beatles song, then turns the volume up on the percussion and guitars with a cool little bass line by Jonathan Hischke that drives the end of the song. An impressive quality that I noticed throughout these songs is that guitarist/singer Josh Klinghoffer uses his voice almost like another instrument. There are parts where he needs to sing with authority, but also knows how to use his tone as a back draft to the music itself.
During the synth and percussion heavy “Somersault”, Klinghoffer strings his words out as an extension to the electronic parts that help elevate them. This is a Dot Hacker trademark that I feel that a lot of bands could draw from. Your vocals does not have to overpower a song to stand out – sometimes you have to let the song take them where it wants them to go. “Memory” is pure beauty. The eerie guitar parts by Klinghoffer and Clint Walsh morph well with the atmospheric noise. Alas, there is an unexpected jam breakdown at the end of the song led by drummer Eric Gardner that is almost thrash-like. It’s what I like about these projects – I’ll echo that Dot Hacker has no qualms to forgo what some would view as a typical song structure and it’ll keep you listening just to see where it can go.
A fitting end to this two part work is “Anger”, which is anything but angry. It accentuates Klinghoffer with piano and a string session. It’s almost like the ending scene to a movie where the hero has to leave the person he saved for some reason. For an EP that is full of instruments and noise, “Anger” brings you down with a somber feeling that makes you sad that journey is over.
I was introduced to Dot Hacker by a friend – boy, I’m glad I was. How’s Your Process? (Play) follows suit with it’s first counterpoint as one of the most pure and great listens of 2014. I know Josh has to go back to his Red Hot Chili Peppers duties soon, but I wouldn’t mind if Dot Hacker stuck around in a greater capacity as well. Does it have structure? – not really. Is there something that feels right about that? – yes.