REVIEW: HDLSS “False Flag”



I was eighteen when I met Far and Wolfy, sitting at a dining room table, surrounded by sprawling potted plants, original paintings of clowns, and framed collages. With a voice somehow both barbed and soothing, Far charmed me with his thoughts on writing, while Wolfy slipped downstairs to the basement where the concrete walls were splattered with paint and poetry, and you couldn’t step a foot in any direction without being within an arm’s reach of an instrument.

The sounds of electric guitar grew in the basement as Wolfy worked the loop pedal, and upstairs, Far told me about how their project, Headless Horseman, was a vehicle for their attempt to cut off their heads and embrace the instinct of their will. Back in 2010, I was probably too green to really ‘get it,’ but I knew it sounded fucking cool. Far led me downstairs where Wolfy stopped the loop, and played me Headless Horseman’s track, “Wavlngth.” My immediate response was just, “woah.” Surf rock meets Animal Collective, I said. Wolfy scoffed, while Far sort of giggled, explaining that they’d gotten the Animal Collective comparisons a lot, much to Wolfy’s chagrin. Just like Animal Collective’s seminal record Feels, “Wavlngth” sounded like I thought my consciousness might, a breathing Jackson Pollock splattered with the binary blood of the internet, woven together by a guitar riff that could’ve been lifted from a Ventures track.

Headless Horseman released a handful of songs, which showcased a wide range of genres that expressed their experience as musicians acting as musical anthropologists, scouring the most desolate and esoteric corners of the internet, all while Far kept his fingers on the pulse of pop music like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Far’s love of pop music was a lot like his favorite snack from back then, sour peach gummies and Cherry Coke.

Now, Far and Wolfy have shed their Headless Horseman moniker in favor of the minimalist, vowel-less, HDLSS. This new name shifts focus away from the folklore association and toward their essential goal in making music, which is to make it a “headless” act of intuition rather than a heady calculation. Their single, “False Flag” presents their collage-reinterpretation sound, heard in their 2010 track “Wavlngth,” but substitutes surf rock for doo wop. The song is a call to stay in touch, or reconnect, with your own truth in a world in which a maelstrom of media attempts to shape the way you see yourself and the world around you. As only a philosopher-poet turned lyricist could, Far morph’s these cerebral sentiments into emotionally provocative lines like, “I’m half awake in my third eye/A grave mistake I normalize.” “False Flag” is a cohesive pop song that draws heavily from doo wop but includes a glitch-heavy bridge that forces the listener to confront the struggle to unify a personal point of view. This single’s been dropped in anticipation of the band’s forthcoming Selections from DUMB, which is scheduled to be released on July 14th via HDLSS Ltd. — DILLON ALEXANDER