Take a purveyor of ambient gothic music, someone who’s been
doing amazing things with texture and sound for over a decade,
add a girl who he happened to fall for, for whatever reason,
and what do you get? Ummm…trip hop? Dead beat? What is this?
It is certainly no Catherine Wheel record, I assure
you. If you can take away all the things you know about His
Name Is Alive, and listen to this album believing that
you are listening to Portishead, or Emiliana Torrinni,
or even Dido, it may become acceptable to you. Pleasant
listening, I assure you, but very little depth.
The album seems to begin with a self-prophesying "Nothing
Special", where this unearthly beautiful female chants
Nothing special anymore over and over. Do tell, Warn.
The first "interlude" is a nice piano piece, and
then all of a sudden some crappy drums start into "Happy
Blues". There’s really nothing so happy or bluesy about
this song. I guess by taking these diminished jazz chords
on the organ, it makes the blues…right? Not for me, bucko.
"Solitude" is, I believe, a cover of an old Duke
Ellington song. And I suppose there is a nice take on
it, what with the lo-fi spinning and sparse glimmering arpeggios
on guitar and piano. "Write My Name…" takes on a
Macy Gray turn, with a bit of a better drum groove,
although it still uses those campy old school 808 sounds,
but without the bass. There are some nice chord changes and
some interesting counter-rhythms in the vocals, but all in
all, not too captivating. Janet Jackson, anyone? "Your
Cheating Heart" is not the Hank Williams song.
I don’t know that I’d call it much of a song, really. I’d
call it the Wolfgang Press with no gumption or beat,
and that’s only because of the sometimes groovy bass lines.
"Our Last Affair" is the nicest song on the record.
It is a sparse arrangement of piano and acoustic guitar, with
the ever present, somewhat annoying woman’s vocals. I’d like
the karaoke version of this one, please…without the weird
All of a sudden there are super Casio sounds, and crazy digital
frog noises coming from my speakers on this track, "One
Year". A little bit too cheesy for me, thanks. Again,
a very nice piano "interlude"…I am wishing for more
passing songs, and less cheesy drums. "Karins Blues"
actually gives a little blues. There are some nice brushed-on
drums, that for the first time on the record sound real, and
some real guitar to boot. And it’s actually blues! The vocalist
is actually very good in this format; take away all the trip
hoppy stuff and get down to it! Piano and strings grace the
folds of "Are We Still Married". It is a softly
beautiful song, and somehow familiar. Why did these good songs
get put so far back into the record? This track could well
be This Mortal Coil in style and execution, back to
the good old His Name Is Alive we all knew and loved so well.
"Someday My Blues…" takes us up out of the realm
of beauty, back to the rejected Portishead sounds. I’ve almost
become immune to the drums at this point, but her voice is
still bothering me in this trip hop sound. And then there’s
"Last Time", a back to basics 38 seconds of beauty.
It’s just the final nice interlude without an afterthought.
I’m very sorry about your album, Warn. I really was hoping
I’d like it. Really, I was. Remember the Livonia album?
Or even the Stars On ESP short? I do…and I’m a little
disappointed at the way His Name Is Alive has decided to become
His Name Is Mediocre And Boring.
— Dan Gerr
- Nothing Special
- Happy blues
- Write My Name In The Groove
- Your Cheating Heart
- Our Last Affair
- One Year
- Karins Blues
- Are We Still Married
- Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth
- Last Time
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