Before saying a word about the music, I’ll list the musicians on this album: Bundy K. Brown, Rob Mazurek, Jeff Parker, Doug Scharin, Julie Liu, and Martin Perna. Not enough? Here are the names of the bands to which these artists are associated: Tortoise, Chicago Underground Duo, Isotope 217, and June of ’44. I gather that this is mostly Doug Scharin (drummer for June of ’44)’s project than anything. And it is more “out” than anything I’ve heard from these musicians is. HIM is rooted in dub, but flows all over the map from jazz-fusion to near ambient soundscaping. The skeleton of these pieces lies in Scharin’s percussion, whether it is straight drums, or other exotic types of percussion. Scharin is a fantastic player, but he never flaunts it, always going for atmospherics instead of mere gimmickry. Bundy K. Brown provides the bass, which gives rise to the dub references.
This is more than just another Chicago instrumental ensemble, however. As much focus is given to the samples and effects as the instruments themselves. Scharin takes this farther than the post-rock moniker attached to the bands of the respective musicians. Scharin takes the instruments and collages them into an atmospheric miasma. He more closely resembles a composer than just a band member or leader, using the mixing board itself as an instrument (which, I suppose, is where the dub references come from.)
The first track, “A Verdict of Science,” is a 20-minute long odyssey through a sea of textures, samples, coronet, snatches of guitar, and bass, with the drums creating a craft with which to sail through. The track “Of the Periphery” utilizes exotic percussive elements and bringing the instruments to the fore. Track three, “Trace Elements,” is more abstract, with its repetitive bass line, dubby echo, and spacey textures. Things get a bit more rocky and structured around the 4th
track, “Scorn Nothing.” Saying that, it’s probably my least favorite track on the CD, it breaks up slow and languid pace of the album. The last track, “Sworn Eyes,” carries the listener off again into the sea created by the first few tracks. The vinyl version of this album has a bonus track, which I cannot comment on, but I’m sure it’s good, considering the high standard of the rest of the album.
It’s a pity this wasn’t released a few months ago, if it was, I’d say that it would be the perfect thing for laying on the hammock, sipping lemonade and reading a good book.
Perishable Ltd., P.O. Box 57-8804, Chicago, IL 60657-8804; http://www.perishablerecords.com