Hillsphere’s debut-album Florescence is the official start of a career that has already been quite the ride. In the short existence of this band, they have been through many growing experiences that transformed them from a starting instrumental postrock group to a musically diverse progressive rock band with metal overtones. And that plethora of growth experiences led to the album you hold now, which in itself is an album about that very topic: Growth
Florescence is a concept album about the growth one makes from childhood to adulthood. It tells the story of an individual who makes his way to through life experiencing darker and brighter times that will eventually help him to form the personality that he will become. The story of the album was inspired by actual- and fictional events creating a whole that fitted the musical style. The albums’ songs contain topics such as coping with anger, fear and sickness, but also experiencing joy, excitement and love and what all these elements do to a person.
The overall musical nature of this record could be described as an increasing amount of intensity that melancholically builds up towards a more open climax with slight aggressive undertones. This album is therefore varied in its’ execution. Songs like “Aquarius” and “Clairvoyance” lean on a very melodic tapestry accentuating the Progressive Rock side of Hillsphere, but songs like “Our Physical Way Of Speaking” and “Mind At Rest” provide an impact that is not unlike certain darker metal acts out there today. This diversity gives this record it’s progressive nature.
Hillsphere started out as the musical endeavour of main composer, guitarist and keyboardist Elias Mayer, but soon evolved into a full-fledged live band with Eren Özilhan on guitar, Tom van Hogen on bass and Jorn van der Wal on drums. Their first live appearances where mainly instrumental. When they eventually started producing their debut album, Elias asked vocalist Tim Beimer for a guest appearance on the song ‘Our Physical Way Of Speaking’, which ended up as the fourth track on the album. It didn’t take long before Elias made the decision to feature Tim on the rest of the album as well. With Tim on their sides as a guest performer, Hillsphere played stages across the Netherlands in support of diverse acts within the progressive scene like Pain of Salvation, Vandenplas and Soul Secret. In these formative stages, the band was able to develop their sound and concept.
From there on, they continued their recordings until it became clear that some changes in their bands’ line-up had to take place. Robin Waij took over guitar duties, Kevin van der Reijnst came in on bass and Wouter Macare on took place on the new drum seat. These new members alongside Elias Mayer and Tim Beimer form the formation of Hillsphere as it is now.
But while this change took place, Elias kept working with Tim to finish the recordings of ‘Florescence’. The recordings for ‘Florescence’ took place at various locations and were led by Elias Mayer who helmed the production and recorded everything with the other musicians leading that process by himself. The album was then mixed and mastered by Pieter Bas Borger to give it the final shine it needed. The album could have been re-recorded with the new members, but for Elias & Tim that didn’t feel right. So in a sense, Florescence can also be seen as a tribute and way of saying thanks for the efforts of the old band members that helped make Hillsphere the band it is today.
Hillsphere’s new formation is working on brand new material and has been performing Florescence live multiple times, proving that they can do the album justice, but also usher in a new period in Hillsphere’s development. So in the end, the process of growth that this album describes is both metaphorically interesting as well as relevant, as the release of this album can be considered a statement of growth in itself. Hillsphere has just started on their musical adventure, but here is to hoping that Hillsphere’s period of Florescence has only just begun!