Don’t you just wish you could listen to a band for the first time again? Listening to Ritual Divination, the fourth(!) album by Los Angeles eclectic “afrobeat meets Black Sabbath” experimentalists Here Lies Man the feeling pops up. Man, I loved their first album; so wildly original, so far out there, so incredibly cool. But also very dependent on a pretty narrow formula: mixing gravelly 70-style afrobeat music with heavy stoner riffs. How long would they be able to keep that up? At least one album a year seems to be the answer, and my my; the novelty has worn off, but those funky riffs are contagious enough to keep the listener drawn in. My only grievance is that I can’t experience that first time kick in the head again when I first heard this stellar sound. It feels like an old friend by now.
Here Lies Man is determined to turn their sound into a full-fledged genre, and as they don’t seem to have any competitors they are quite welcome to it. They wear their oddball sound comfortably like a 70s pimp would wear a furcoat, top hat, and bling. In fact some of these songs sound exactly like that look, perhaps with added purple and green smoke clouds emanating from their nostrils. It’s music that makes you want to move, but with such a layer of laziness added to it that you’d probably end up only wiggling your big toe. That was a conscious Tarantino reference by the way, as Here Lies Man would be a perfect house band for one of his darker vintage-style movies.
The thing I like most about Ritual Divination is the fact that the band really jams whenever they can. They have proven themselves to be pretty well at writing danceable, catchy tunes, and that is still a major part of their sound, but this time around they really went for the psychedelic groove and repetition whenever the song allowed for it. The longer tracks like In These Dreams, Collector Of Vanities, and Cutting Through The Tether have a strong hypnotic quality to them that make you wish they would never end. Apart from making the listener not getting up out of that chair any time soon, I guess that’s a pretty good quality for a song to have…
A critical note? Sure; there is nothing new under the sun here, and if you are familiar with previous Here Lies Man albums you’d know what to expect. But hey: no one else sounds like this, and the band does this sound really well so I have absolutely zero complaints. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit in my easy chair wiggling my big toe to Ritual Divination some more.