One of the most depressing things a little kid sees when he opens the really big Christmas gift he’s been waiting more than a year for is a note on the box that reads, “Assembly required.” For His Name Is Alive’s new album Detrola, luckily, there is no assembly required. Detrola is a joyous gift that comes in pieces, but these pieces are molded into and crafted in different ways to make a mighty Transformer of a song on each track by producer Warren Defever. These pieces range from a classic rock/blues guitar, to the haunting vocals of Lovetta Pippen and Andrea. Near the end of most of the tracks, the pieces slowly dissipate, allowing each piece to shine in its own radiance.
His Name Is Alive has been, for the most part, the brainchild of Defever, who started recording in 1986 with vocalists Angie Carozzo and his classmate and future long-time collaborator Karin Oliver. The ghastly ethereal compositions on Livonia, HNIA’s first album, attracted the attention of the 4AD label, who also carried one of Defever’s bigger influences, the Cocteau Twins. Since then, Defever’s been very prolific and varied in his musical style, never content to stay stuck in one specific genre, which brings us up to speed on Detrola.
Detrola is a great illustration of HNIA’s somewhat sporadic musical style. Influences can be seen from all around the map, including electronica, dance, jazz, folk, blues, and even a hint of classic rock. This is obviously an ambitious venture to combine so many varying strata of musical composition, though Defever manages to pull it off pretty well. The songs mood can vary from the almost frantic “After I Leave U” to the calm and slightly solemn “Send My Face.”
What makes Detrola unique is the way that each of the tracks seems to either piece together or fall apart in a way that lets the listener respect each ingredient of the track. All of the songs have the same ingredients, but these parts are fashioned together in completely exclusive ways on each track. These pieces do not sit and stagnate either, but they evolve as the song progresses. And they require no extraneous effort on the part of the listener. The first track, “Introduction” gives the feeling as if this is not an album, but a play where each ingredient develops as much as an actor’s character does. Because of this evolution in the tracks, it makes for a completely different musical experience. Defever has done an album well by taking familiar sounds and creating something completely different.
Unrest – Imperial ffrr
Saturday Looks Good To Me – All Your Summer Songs
Seam – Are You Driving Me Crazy