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Here Lies Man - Here Lies Man album review

Heavy Afro-psychedelic debut explores the rhythmic possibilities of the riff.

Here Lies Man - Here Lies Man album artwork

The debut album from LA quintet Here Lies Man is being promoted with the question: “What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?”

It certainly grabs the attention, but potentially smacks of gimmicky conceit. Thankfully, being the brainchild of Marcos Garcia from the Fela Kuti-inspired Antibalas, what we get is a genuine hybrid of styles rather than a hipster mash-up. Opening track When I Come To establishes the formula that they pretty much stick to for the rest of the album: chunky fuzz riffs riding a busy polyrhythmic groove, with lots of congas in the mix plus Garcia’s throaty, invocatory vocals. There’s an obvious comparison to be made with Goat, but Here Lies Man deliver a heavier, denser take on ethno-psychedelia. Yet the really intriguing element to their sound is the distorted, high-register organ melodies that warble overhead like exotic birds in the forest canopy, and recall the tropical dub rock of Sun Araw. They occasionally stray from their formula – I Stand Alone ends with a hypnotic drum break over an eerie ambient pulse and So Far Away has a spacey garage-horror vibe – but this is an album that crackles with a blazing, single-minded intensity, celebrating the riff as a cross-cultural mantra.

Joe is a regular contributor to Prog. He also writes for Electronic Sound, The Quietus, and Shindig!, specialising in leftfield psych/prog/rock, retro futurism, and the underground sounds of the 1970s. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, MOJO, and Rock & Folk. Joe is the author of the acclaimed Hawkwind biographyDays Of The Underground (2020). He’s on Twitter and Facebook, and his website is https://www.daysoftheunderground.com/