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HiM - Lila

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Artist: HiM

Album: Lila

Label: Galaxia

Review date: Feb. 16, 2004

Dubbed the companion piece to Many In High Places Are Not Well (Bubble Core), this 20-minute offering pairs founding member, Doug Scharin (June of ’44, Codeine, etc), with project collaborator Rob Mazurek (Chicago Underground, Orton Socket). On Lila, HiM opts for primitive recording methodologies, employing a 4-track to capture a rich blend of what might be called dub-jazz. Scharin passes on the rhythmically layered, percussive subtleties of past albums; the real treat here is the density of the duo’s melodies.

As often is the case, Scharin provides the backdrop for his cohorts’ creative flourishes, brandishing his brand of thick dub behind Mazurek’s coronet, stretching a canvas for the well-known abstract improviser. Mazurek stays grounded throughout, yielding to the restrictions that are inherently suggested by the minimal nature of the beats, and lyrically propels the sound from head-nodding to star-gazing. At times whimsical and swirling, and at others low and murmured, his instrumentation echoes Scharin’s Rhodes with ease.

Although broken into five separate tracks, Lila seems to have been written as an additional stanza to Many In High Places… Operating in the shadow of the LP, this composition was perhaps released to punctuate yet another era on the timeline of Scharin’s ever-evolving project, and the resulting concise appeal may prove to do just that. Not since 1999’s Sworn Eyes (HiM’s premier achievement), does Scharin articulate so pointedly his worldly vision through collage sound. Through afro-beat eccentricity and complex texture, Lila is so tight, it almost ends too soon.

Virtually hidden vocal harmonies from Christian Dautresme (Letter E, Out In Worship) and contributions from Joe Goldring (SubArachniod Space, O.I.W.) and Griffin Rodriguez (Joshua LaRue, The Sun) serve to further furnish the soundscape. The added instrumentation anchors Mazurek’s ascending brass, enriched by the addition of steady tonal grooves (Those familiar with Mazurek’s body of work shouldn’t expect shards of abrasive high notes exploding randomly into space). Complemented by handsome packaging featuring photography by Thomas Campbell, Lila masterfully encompasses the restraint of earlier HiM albums, something I’ve been anticipating for some time. With Scharin recently taking on the title of father, one wonders with what pace he will be able to write and release, making this 12" all the more enticing.

By Billy Shand

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Many in High Places Are Not Well


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