What the twenty-first century has gotten wrong (so far) as we all web together in a thousand versions of the same political trappings has got to be the tendency to push, shove and continue to shoot in the face whatever alien lands nearby. As the average attention span drops by the year and cripples this latest apocalypse-minded adult generation into inaction it is all too easy to forget that education, not death, is the great equalizer of men. Fusion is at the heart of all successful community, despite how often the ruling class’d demand our separation; The most brilliant minds in science, art, cuisine, literature and especially music craft intelligent legacy from the relatively new understanding that fusion can provide a spiritual lifeline for any ‘lost’ corner of the world and enrich the most well lit arena. With a head full of smartphone reception blinding you, you probably can’t help but see that electric blue light as anything but a dark and shocking tunnel towards a dismal future for mankind — To resist the chaos of the war of information swirling around within the imaginary plane of men, and not participate in a future intent on increasing torment for (you) the systematically oppressed, might see you fusing more often with perceived ‘opposites’. If you believe in no possible utopia and that the inevitable fusion of man will be into nuclear dust, consider a half hour of freedom in the meantime. Link up within the tightly-held hands that bond the riffcraft obsession of 70’s heavy psychedelic rock and hall-shaking, nation-uniting thump of afrobeat by way of Los Angeles, California visionaries Here Lies Man and be lifted by it.
There are a million angles to approach the ‘heavy rock’ application of fuzz guitars, analog recordings, and the stoney joy of the early 70’s from when placed upon the danceable, optimistic spirit of afrobeat but, Here Lies Man are an undersea volcano-turned-island at this point in time. Implementation of ‘worldly’ rhythms into heavy music draws immediately anxiety for folks who’d lived through the mid-90’s ‘tribal groove metal’ trend and thankfully we’re at least two decades removed from anything so tawdry with ‘No Ground to Walk Upon’. The third full-length from the band who’d form between past and present Antibalas members who’ve been an instrumental force in their traditional celebration of afrobeat music for two decades. The multitudinous world of rhythmic timing and the various permutations of the clave serve as the basis for an entirely “new to you” groove that sounds ancient thanks to Here Lies Man‘s home recorded analog 8-track ways and I’d say that is the main reason it’ll be hard to wrap your head around the level of conceptual inception on display. This is not simple fusion of heavy rock riffs and afro-carribean rhythms but a fusion that places itself in the early traditions of each genre and sounds as if it were recorded in 1971. Sit with any release from the band long enough and you will eventually hear it for the unique and heavy psychedelic rock that it is.
As I’d said back in June of 2018 for the review of Here Lies Man‘s second full-length, ‘You Will Know Nothing’, the modus of this band is guitar music first and foremost. It arrives at an alien pace compared to the blues-based traditions of riff rock music that the average listener will either find a magnetic force or sit with a huge question mark over their head. If you’re familiar with afrobeat (if not, YouTube has plenty of short documentaries to pick from) it is music of unity, pride, rebellion and strength of spirit; The barrier to the genius of Here Lies Man is that it kind of begs that you understand the core influence of rhythm and why ‘electrifying’ the inspiration of that historical style of music with hard psychedelic sounds is such an undertaking, both conceptually and from a point of creating interesting arrangements. It might take seeing the band live, which I had the pleasure of in Seattle late last June, where an intimate level of performance becomes triumphant and haunting in the hands of vocalist/guitarist Marcos Garcia who has quickly honed in on the sonic strengths of the band while continuing to approach the songwriting in cerebral ways.
Enjoy it casually if you like, in fact it is hugely effective ‘stoner music’ on a base level but there is a deeper layer of rhythmic progression that each Here Lies Man release employs. ‘No Ground to Walk Upon’ noticeably diminishes, giving the impression of increasing intoxication or dissolution as it begs to be played in succession. Where I begin to wonder how much gas is in the tank comes with some smaller similarities with past material that had me thinking this was a set of B-sides at first, the only moment where this was even remotely uncanny came with “Long Legs (Look Away)” and its vibe being fairly close to “Summon Fire” as it kicks into the verse/chorus. ‘You Will Know Nothing’ was an alien trip and on this mini-LP we get the business end of those afterburners. As a whole these are tighter songs that kick off with higher energy, build up to (less downtrodden) ultra-wet psych washes, and the heaviest grooves from the band yet. It is the exact right record to jump into the band with as it comes with all solid material that flows beautifully together into a very succinct release. Highly recommended. For preview purposes I’d say “Clad in Silver” is the right track to start with but pay special attention to the glorious psychedelia of “Get Ahold of Yourself” and ridiculously slick and catchy groove of “Man Falls Down”.
Music is a weapon of the future. 4.0/5.0
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