Wednesday, March 08, 2006

His Name Is Lost (Updated 3/9)

For various reasons today hasn't been the best day of my life. It started with the dog getting the runs at 3AM (and subsequently needing to go out to poo every hour and a half or so) and went quickly, sleeplessly, downhill.

So cue the music, fire up the TV, because I need diversion.

1) His Name Is Alive, who in 1993 put out one of my favorite albums of all time, the unclassifiable Mouth By Mouth, has finally put out a worthy follow-up to that gem. While last month's Detrola doesn't come particularly close to the greatness that is MBM, it's still a great album in its own right. HNIA's several years of misfires and uninspired releases has left fans like me understandably cautious and skeptical.

The years after MBM did see some wonderful cassette-only releases (later put out on CD) on the band's Time Stereo label, but their big releases on the 4AD label always seemed to be over-reaching concept albums that put more importance on ideas and conceits than on the art itself. Never was this more apparent than when brains-behind-the-curtain Warren Defever turned the entirety of the singing duties over to girlfriend Lovetta Pippen. While technically well-presented and aesthetically lush, Defever's songwriting seemed to play too much to Pippen's distinctive, gospel-informed crooning. While this worked for many fans, many more felt the music's odd mix of styles delivered an air of abstract blandness. In this respect, the whole became decidedly less than the sum of its parts. And, really, it's not to Defever's detriment. HNIA had already become stagnant and a change of direction was probably a healthy endeavor. But the experiment like so many experiments, looked better on paper than in practice and after the disappointing reception of their last two albums, to all but die hard fans, HNIA seemed terminally out of gas.

Four years and a handful of obscure self-released ep's and collector's items later, His Name Is Alive resurface with their best major release since 1993. On Detrola Defever and the rotating cast of singers (all three of HNIA's past songstresses are well-represented here) capture much of the inspiration from their early days without becoming a paean or a throwback. It washes over us with the same breezy unselfconsciousness found on those homemade cassette releases of the early 90's and the same transporting and creepy, pop-song sculptures that made them heroes on Mouth By Mouth and Livonia. But never do the songs feel like a continuation or redo. Detrola very much exists in and on its own. It was a long journey, but His Name Is Alive is finally back.

Toolshed Media is hosting a slow-loading MP3 from the album. Check out: "Get Your Curse".

2) Lost has finally found its mojo this season. After spending much of the year mucking around in its more soap-opera-y sub-plots, it's begun to pick up steam and once again, leave us breathless at every commercial break waiting to see which one of us will compose themselves enough to stand up and holler, "Holy Shit!!!" Fun. Fun. There's been some hinting at the secrets behind the major plot-points lately and some sleuthing fans over at The Fuselage have hit on a few very legitimate leads. Namely, this and this. Yikes. My brain hurts and I'm kinda creeped out. New episode tonight. So grab a bottle of wine, turn out the lights and enjoy. (It's been on off day, what can I say?)


Ed Ballinger said...

This has peaked my interest! I havn't payed any attention to them in ages, but I loved all that older shit. I'll be seeking this out ASAP. Thanks for the tip.

Bryan Delano III said...

Thanks, Ed.

Note the re-write. Wanted to clear up some thoughts.

As for the album, it was a surprise to have enjoyed it so much. I'd pretty much written them off. Wasn't too interested in following them wherever it was they were venturing, musically speaking. Gotta love surprises.