The Upshot: A unique collaboration that gives what seems like conventional psych/prog rock a depth no classic band would have ever imagined.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
His Name is Alive has never taken itself for granted. Detroit native Warren Defever has always pushed his band beyond any self-imposed boundaries, finding new worlds within the intersections of rock, electronica, R&B, psych and experimental music. Patterns of Light, the group’s fifteenth full-length studio album, reaches a new plateau, while at the same time being one of HNIA’s most straightforward offerings.
Eschewing most of the cross-genre explorations of previous records, Defever rallies his troop around a psychedelic prog rock flag for Patterns of Light. Using his and fellow axeman Dusty Jones’ six-strings as the centerpiece of the arrangements, Defever composes sweeping vistas of anthemic melody, drenching them in distortion, synths and singer Andrea Morici’s angelic harmonies. Unvarnished drumming keeps the cuts on an aggressive space rock keel, driving them straight into the heart of the sun. The lush “Calling All Believers” and “Dragon Down” contrast nicely with the aggressive title track and “Black Wings.” “Demonmix” suggests a mind-meld between divine and demonic forces yoked to a sleigh of catchy melodies and guitar firepower. Skilled musicianship and Defever’s unerring way with a memorable tune make each track sound like a hit on an imaginary radio station that remembers the best of the 60s and 70s.
If that sounds like HNIA has lost some of its experimental mojo, don’t be fooled. The music perfectly fits the subject matter. Invited to play a show at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the band boned up on the facility’s purpose, writing a batch of songs about particle physics, dark matter, the search for other dimensions and more. As if that wasn’t enough, Defever then had the material fact-checked by the scientist who invited HNIA, and adjusted the songs according to his corrections. Defever then blended the results with elements of creation mythology, medieval manuscripts and the visionary studies of Christian mystic and polymath Hildegard von Bingen. Heady stuff even for the most devout lover of unconventional musics.
Patterns of Light is a unique collaboration that gives what seems like conventional psych/prog rock a depth no classic band would have ever imagined. You may think you’ve heard something like this before, but trust us – you really haven’t.
DOWNLOAD: “Demonmix,” “Calling All Believers,” “Black Wings”