ALBUM REVIEW: Here Lies Man – You Will Know Nothing

7/10

Following their 2017 self-titled debut album which earned this LA band acclaim from BBC 6 & Classic Rock Magazine, Here Lies Man return with a sound which appears both highly scientific and mathematical; yet goes back to men and nature’s roots. The band hopes to build upon the success of their debut which earned a place in Rough Trades’ Top 10 Albums of 2017.

Promising “gritty grooves”, Marcos Garcia (founder and vocalist/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist (and Antibalas guitarist) explains, “There’s an interesting conceptual mathematics to the entire proceedings. “There are interludes between each song that is 2/3 to 3/4 of the tempo of the previous song. The reason it breaks down to 2 over 3 or 3 over 4 is that everything in the music rhythmically corresponds to a set of mathematical algorithms known as the clave. The clave is an ancient organizing rhythmic principle developed in Africa.”

Animal Noises opens this LP with an intense charge of free-loving energy, transporting you back to 1969. There is an exciting motivating communal vibe, allowing like-minded people to come together regardless of background, class, religion, education or ethnicity. A 13th Floor Elevators sound with an injection of the sound of Africa is felt. Within the space of just over four minutes, Animal Noises makes an underground sound accessible to everyone, getting anybody to dance to this rhythm; whilst retaining the dignity of the underground roots entrenched in this song.

There is an instant penetration of energy which is ever-present with strong raw guitar sounds across Summon Fire, Blindness, Taking the Blame, Fighting and Memory Games; all enhanced with the consistent, yet subtle use of the organ. That Much Closer to Nothing opens with a haunting sadness, before returning to the Woodstock energy and finishing with a perfect outro of afrobeat drums. Hell (Wooly Tail) is a recipe that mixes and stirs both the sound of hauntingness with late sixties optimistic, boundary-crossing energy. The combined sound inadvertently crosses into punk blues territory; producing a more layered The Bellrays sound. Voices At The Window is the anomaly of this record which has an early MGMT feel. The playout, You Ought to Know (with the exception of Floating on Water) offers a more sanguine and meditative chilled sound. The rawness and heaviness of the guitars are softened, almost like a tailor-made warm down to an intense psychedelic workout.

You Will Know Nothing is an album seeking to “expand upon the band’s exploration of heavy riff-based rock and psych within the ancient rhythmic formula of the clave.” Here Lies Man goes about this excavation by using a plethora of musical instruments; whilst drawing influence from traditional and non-mainstream musical genres. This is exactly what a talented, multi-instrumental band like Here Lies Man should be doing, however on occasions; the finished products are slightly too laconic and would occasionally benefit from a few additional lyrics; as opposed to reliance solely upon repetition of the title of each song. Whilst the perfect graphic novel relies on the craftsmanship of its illustrations to tell its story (and Here Lies Man are collectively fine musical graphic illustrators), but even the greatest graphic novels occasionally need additional words to fully convey meaning; ensuring no enlightened wisdom is ill-fated to disappear into nothingness.

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