archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003
MANY IN HIGH PLACES ARE NOT WELL
I have to be openly honest here and admit that in the past I was never taken by the releases of HIM, maybe you could put it down to a case of never investing the time needed to saviour their expanding melodic fabrics, maybe I could argue that their music just wasn’t saying anything at all to me, whatever the reason was I now held up my hands and admitted fault. The reason I’m saying all this is because ‘Many in high places are not well’ their latest release is a truly happy and satisfying listening experience.
What this collectives latest offering achieves can be looked upon as a natural rhythmic progression of their leader, drummer Doug Scharin’s vision moving from the earlier incarnations of Codeine and June of ’44, the formers heart yearning slow core ideology the latter’s mouth watering stutter math rock dynamics, both imparting a cold like pensiveness to their nature which is now cleverly abridged and enriched with exotic grooves.
Brushings of sophisticated jazz signatures are perkily treated to colourful brass dustings, the textures evolving into floods of curvaceous images promising tropical sunsets and endless untouched beauty. Featuring the introduction of guest vocals from Kirstin Valtysdottir of Mum and Christian Daustreme of The Letter E and an accompaniment of players that includes members of the Mice Parade, Isotope 127, Swans and Tom Tom Club, Scharin and Co weave an intricate floorshow of twisting arrangements and loosened cultured dance vibes, underpinned by tribal interplays, at times intimate at others erotically charged, just check out the sleek sensual lines of ‘Slow, Slow, Slow’ which trips in the afterglow of a twilight paradise, combining a seriously meaty bass thread with the recollections of Bowie’s ‘John I’m only Dancing’ soul phase in the shadows.
‘Perspective from a slow spin’ serves as a departure in terms of style for the album. The tightly knitted melodies are stretched to create a spacey ambience that recalls Bill Laswell, the longing melancholic parps of a lonesome cornet instil a sense of Gershwin classicism to it all. ‘Elope and Secede’ is simply delicious, exploring the sounds of Africa and almost coaxing a spiritual essence reminiscent of the Four Brothers to the proceedings. Last but not least, ‘Coming of Age’. Maintaining a solid tribal beat for it’s backbone what at first seems like stripped down composition with no identifiable substance soon unfolds its atmospheric resonance and captivates you in it’s earthy hypnotic glare. One for those hot sultry nights.