286

HiM: Many In High Places Are Not Well

Farrell Lowe By

Sign in to view read count
HiM: Many In High Places Are Not Well Many In High Places Are Not Well is a gentle and iridescent collision of color and cultures. The group combines elements of reggae, West African kora music, hip hop, and trance into a unique solid amalgam of modern music. Whether one calls it "jazz" or "not jazz," doesn't matter—this is inspired music played by people who care about what they're expressing, and they do it very well.

Drummer Doug Scharin formed HiM in 1995, and after numerous personnel changes and shifts in musical directions through the last 8 years he seems to have found a unifying theme for his wanderings near the turn of the century. This is his second recording on the Bubble Core label, which seems to be a fitting home for his eclectic brew of musical ideas. What has emerged here is a complex and hypnotic mixture of Teo Macero-like editing sensibilities, coupled with driving drum loops and multiple layers of percussion, topped off with understated, yet powerful melodic lines that swoop and swirl around the rhythmic mix.

From the opening notes of the opening track it's apparent that this is a drummer's record. The two drummers lay down a hotbed of rhythm from the outset, upon which gentle and pervasive "almost-ostinatos" percolate and propel the energy forward. There are strong elements of dub techniques interspersed with Afropop flourishes, pseudo-Hawaiian lap steel musings, and tremulous wordless vocal explorations. Ray Mazurek (of Tortoise, Chicago Underground, and Isotope 217 fame) provides some brilliant trumpet work throughout the album, deftly juggling the edges between recurring motifs and improvisation. The empathy he has with the vocalist is stunning and the line between who is playing what where is often blurred.

Judging by the music presented here, Scharin must be a huge fan of the music of the German group Can and, in particular, with the drum work of Jaki Liebezeit. The trance-like grooves of much of this music harkens back to those Deutsch masters, but Scharin must also be a big advocate of Don Cherry's Codona era, which sounds like another strong influence on the "fusion music" offered to great effect with this effort.

Another trait Scharin shares with Can and Codona is the penchant for mixing new combinations of sounds and styles, and then creating something unique, personal, and substantial from that mixture. This music is throughly accessible and creative—no easy feat, and one to be applauded for its success on both fronts.

Fans of Tortoise, Chicago Underground, Isotope 217, Can, Codona, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago should find plenty to please them within these grooves.

Check out the latest at Bubblecore .

Track Listing: Elementals; Many In High Places; Slow Slow Slow; The Way The Trees Are; Perspective from a slow spin; Elope and Secede; Coming Of Age

Personnel: Josh Berman; Carlo Cennamo; Christian Dautresme; Fred Erskine-bass; Joe Goldring; Dominic Johnson; Josh Larue; Julie Liu; Rob Mazurek-trumpet; Abdou M'boup; Dave Pavkovic; Adam Pierce; Griffin Rodriguez; Doug Scharin-drums; Matt Schneider; Amelia Liu Sun Scharin; Kristin Anna Valtysdottir

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Bubble Core | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Thank You For Coming To Life" CD/LP/Track Review Thank You For Coming To Life
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "2468 West Grand Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review 2468 West Grand Boulevard
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: December 27, 2016
Read "Arrhythmia" CD/LP/Track Review Arrhythmia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 25, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Collider" CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!