Skylines, the forthcoming debut album from Pittsburgh-based guitarist and producer Dave Hillis, is a mesmerizing electro-swirl of rugged beats, trippy textures, haunting vocals, dreamy atmospherics, and grimy and glitchy ambience. The 11-song collection recalls the bold soundscapes and musical collage compositional approach of DJ Shadow, Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxxs, Death In Vegas, Underworld, and Tricky.

It’s an unlikely record from an artist, multi-platinum producer, and guitarist known for his work with iconic rock bands, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains; grunge legend, Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age); English pop star, James Blunt; Gun R’ Roses bassist, Duff McKagan; and thrash pioneers, MACE, among other shoegaze and alt-rock bands. Yet Hillis has had a lifelong love and fascination with samplers.

“It is a departure from the guitar-based rock music I usually produce, but it is another side of my creative personality,” Dave acknowledges. “It’s very liberating to work with no rules. You have to find different ways to express emotions, abstract ideas, and messages. It’s a challenging way to be creative.”

Dave’s fascination with sampling technology and electronica dates back to high school when he would skip class to go jam with the local guitar teacher. While waiting for his lesson, he would mess with a Roland sampler lying around the music store. The hardware platform offered a world of possibilities that he hadn’t considered with guitar-based music. Dave eventually purchased the machine, and he first used the sampler for goth and industrial style recordings and projects.

In the mid 1990s, when Dave was in the Island Records alternative rock band Sybil Vane (best known for the song, “Sorry,” featured in the Liv Tyler-starring cult flick, Empire Records), he had a fateful encounter at the label office. Someone passed along an advance copy of an upcoming Tricky album, and when he played it in the van, and he heard the exact music he had been yearning to make. At the time, Dave had an established career in rock as a guitarist and a producer/engineer. It would take him years of tinkering with technology and soundscaping tracks until the tracks and aesthetic of Skylines unfolded before him.