HiM: Peoples
Bubble Core

The majority of HiM's seventh recording was laid down in Tokyo (the rest in the US at Chicago, Connecticut, etc.) following a Japan tour but the album's clearly more connected to Africa than Japan. It's an expansive record, the group's core of Adam Pierce, Josh Larue, and HiM founder Doug Scharin augmented by keyboardist Robert King and guitarist Josh Larue, plus guests Antibalas founder Martin Pera, trumpeter Jordan Mclean, New Need Body bassist Griffin Rodriguez, and singer Christian Dautresme. HiM remains an eclectic unit, the group's sound this time a fluid, boundary-hopping fusion of African elements, dub textures, taut post-rock rhythms, and spacey vocal chants (“This We Know,” “Universe Peoples”).

Highlights include Scharin's muscular drumming and intricate lattices of African guitar like the spindly figure that pops up throughout “What's Up Tonight.” Christian Dautresme's whispered vocals boost the disc, and in some cases help distance it from HiM's post-rock kin (fueled by a classic vibes-drums attack, “What's Up Tonight” could be heard as a lost Tortoise gem in the absence of her breathy musing). The material's both upbeat (the pulsating “This We Know” and “How You Buy Fire,” which decompresses from a Latin drum broil to a Trenchtown skank) and laid-back (the loose “Robber's Knot” with its kalimba and Jew's harp wheeze, and “As We Were Once” where Tomeka Reid's cello crosses paths with the African percussion of Pierce, Scharin, and Abdou M'boop). “Universe Peoples” exudes a ‘60s vibe in keeping with its title (not to mention some rather cringe-inducing lyrics like “Out of this world we're born from, not in,” the song's text from Alan Watts The Book) while the nearly eleven-minute “In These Times” becomes a driving big-band showcase for Pera's flute, Mclean's jazzy trumpet, and King's electric piano. Think of Peoples as Sun Ra visiting Africa by way of Chicago.

June 2006