On Going Fast

I started listening to Zach Hill’s drumming obsessively around the same time I also started watching a lot of speedruns. This may just be a simple coincidence but I think both things are formally and philosophically similar. They’re fast, extremely so when put up against the norm of an average person playing games or how drums function in most popular music, but rather than being marked by efficiency, their second primary attribute after speed is excess. Watching Zach Hill play, it’s nearly impossible to separate flourish from normal play, in fact it seems like his playing is cut down to well timed and connected flourishes once it reaches a certain speed.

Zach Hill is a Sacramento-based drummer who’s most recently known for his work with the hip hop group Death Grips. Before then, during his solo work and time in the band Hella, most of which can loosely be classified under the banner of math rock or psychedelia revival, the speed and intensity of his style still stands out. The function of percussion in popular music, outside of the occasional drum solo, is generally to fall back and carry the beat, or structure of the song while other instruments and vocals take the lead. In this way it’s almost like the support onto which a work of art is executed, like the canvas to the painting itself.

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