Veda Hille 
Beach Practice

Independent • 2022

Beach Practice captures the listlessness of the soft apocalypse many of us are still trying to unpack.

Beach Practice surrounds fear and doubt with joyful sound. The latest album from Veda Hille’s elaborate catalogue is an amalgamation of experimental sounds and well-crafted narrative. Each song says what it needs to say in an honest exploration of the task at hand. Nicholas Krgovich produced Beach Practice from Hille’s early demos of songs written during the Spring of 2020, capturing the listlessness of the soft apocalypse many of us are still trying to unpack.

Opener “I Jump In” introduces the theme of embracing all the little things that motivate us to choose life again and again: “I love when I am dancing in the kitchen.” Promptly pivoting with life’s throes, the lyrics of title track “Beach Practice” are a poetic meditation on the end of an earthly existence: “Grief practice sink or climb / Sometimes never reach react / Add subtract tesseract / A balcony / Dig a hole and go to sleep.” The instrumentals balance the sorrow beginning with a persistent piano melody over the sound of waves and ending with laughter.

“Tracers” represents the darkness of disease in an approachable way, bringing diagnostic imaging into dialogue with unrelenting optimism. Hearing “Tracers” gave me the profound privilege of witnessing some of my own experiences of disease outside of the confines of my fears: “They injected you with tracers now your bones glow in the dark.” It so candidly conveys the helplessness of being at the mercy of your cells: “You can’t tell them how to grow oh no / Multiplying all the time / Just fine just fine just fine.” Amidst all that harsh reality is the voice in the back of your head chanting, “Keep it up, keep it up, keep it up,” and the beautifully phrased well-wishes, “May the best day you’ve ever seen be worse than your worst to come.”

“Be A Tree” centers around the idea that our capacity for joy and our tolerance for pain are one and the same, borrowing from Dostoevsky: “The darker the night / The brighter the stars / The deeper the grief / The closer is God.” An exercise in presence, “Be A Tree” returns to that idea of recalibrating our daily practices in order to be here: “Be wherever you can be, really.” The next song, “John Cena Dream,” is a self-explanatory minute and a half recess from reality about gaining “John Cena strength” in dreamland. 

Returning to “average human strength” on “Knife,” Hille embraces vulnerability: “I don’t want to see what’s inside of me.” Beginning with this arpeggiating key part, rising and falling over a thick pad, “Knife” expresses the intersection of mental and physical health: “The fear, the fear, any little pain brings it back again.” 

Beach Practice is full of the in-between feelings that are often hard to name. The way the instruments are arranged with the lyrics makes these songs simultaneously heartbreaking, inspiring, and fun listening.  “Free Radical” evokes the hope that there is little left unrealized when you pause and look at your life: “Very little haunts me.” “Directions” is about having something to say but not quite knowing how to: “Please ask me so I can say / I’m sorry I don’t know the way.” Another nod to external work, “Time” is a retelling of the poem “If I Could Tell You” by W. H. Auden, a reminder that our collective human existence is full of reference points from those who came before us.

Built from the massively destabilizing events of the pandemic, Beach Practice has joy and desperation all wrapped up in the sense that all this is fleeting. “Coyote” tells the story of glimpsing a coyote in the middle of the road to the feeling of blinking and suddenly finding the scene in front of you has changed: “And then you look up once and see / a different picture, how things could be.” The song closes the album, leaving us with the words: “Forever still / Forever standing / On the divide / Alive.”


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