HIM - "Sworn Eyes"
(Perishable Records 1999, PER009)
From Aural Innovations #9 (January 2000)
From Chicago, HIM is solo project led by June of 44, Rex, and Out In Worship drummer Doug Scharin, joined by guest musicians. The promo material describes this as "dub-jazz soundscapes" though I would have reversed that to read space trancey jazz-dub as the jazz influences overshadow most of the Dub influences, with the exception of the percussion.
The CD opens with "A Verdict Of Science", a 20 minute space trancy world-jazz piece, and Rob Mazurek's coronet embellishes the music nicely reminding me of parts of David Torn's "Cloud About Mercury". There are lots of choppy (probably looped) start/stop bits with echoed percussion and bubbly synth sounds. The music doesn't develop in the sense of having a set direction. Rather, it's an exploration of rhythm and sound that is sometimes enjoyably chaotic, yet also sets a nice groove. "Of The Periphery" offers up more trancey world-jazz. Scharin's percussion work on this tune is at the forefront offering not only marvelous and melodic rhythms but gorgeous sounds as well.
"Trace Elements" is about groove, groove, and more GROOVE with its basic but catchy melody. I was boppin' along with the deep bass line, but again it's the percussion that dominates. "Scorn Nothing" is more of the same but very jazz hip hoppy. We get to hear more guitar and blaring coronet which, along with the carefully utilized turntable work, is a creatively edited tune that includes some great jamming that brings the groove to an even higher level. "Sworn Eyes" is a quieter, more floating ambient piece that still maintains the cool jazzy feel led by the coronet and Scharin's percussion, but is also joined by subtle but 'good feeling' keyboards. Perhaps more in the freaky improvisational space-jazz realm than the other tunes.
In summary, I was quite taken with Scharin's jazz-in-space brand of world rhythmic beats and atmospherics. I'll certainly have to check out the other bands that he's involved in.
Available through Perishable Records.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz