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His Name Is Alive — Tecuciztecatl

His Name Is Alive — Tecuciztecatl (October 28, 2014)

 His Name Is Alive — Tecuciztecatl

 •  Warren Defever s obratností a pokračující ochotou přijmout velká, podivuhodná konceptuální rizika — něco, co se slaví méně a méně v rámci stále homogennější krajiny, co v proudu času vešlo ve známost jako indie rock. Warren s tím zachází s úctou, jakousi oslavou určitého druhu bombastického zvukového přebytku označeného 70´, kapel typu King Crimson, Yes a Emerson Lake a Palmer. 
Interview : Andrea Francesca Morici. Výňatek: Q: Jaká byla největší výzva pro vás? A: Překonání mého sebevědomí. Nejsem zpěvačkou nebo front–woman od přírody. Cítím se pohodlně za klávesnicí. Jsem v pohodě bokem, off, v rohu. Psaní mi nedělá potíže. Ale když jsem se musela učinit krok dopředu a stát se zpěvačkou pro His Name Is Alive, bylo to opravdu těžké.
•  Progressive indie collective from suburban Detroit that produces elegant, dreamlike pop according to the vision of frontman Warren Defever. 
Location: Livonia, Sterling Heights Michigan, Michigan / Ferndale, Detroit / Canada
Album release: October 28, 2014
Record Label: London London/Light in the Attic Records
Duration:     44:21
01 The Examination     9:08
02 See You In A Minute     4:04
03 I’m Getting Alone     6:22
04 Reflect Yourself     1:49
05 I Will Disappear You     5:22
06 I Believe Your Heart Is No Longer Inside This Room     4:36
07 African Violets Cast A Spell     0:33
08 Yes Yes Yesterday     3:43
09 The Cup     0:39
10 African Violet Casts a Spell     2:37
11 Reciprocal Tensions and Polarized Components    0:48
12 Yes Yes Yesterday     3:35
13 The Cup     1:08
••   Written by His Name Is Alive, track 5: His Name Is Alive / Jordan Schug
•  Andrea Morici — vocals, bass synthesizer, mellotron
•  Warren Defever — guitar
•  Dusty Jones — guitar, bass, talkbox 
•  J Rowe — drums, gong, percussion
••  Elliot Bergman Saxophone
••  Davin Brainard Photography
••  Jean Cook String Arrangements
••  Claire D’Aoust Photography
••  Warren Defever Cowbell, Guitar, Mellotron, Vocals
••  Dusty Jones Guitar, Talk Box
••  Andrea Francesca Morici Bass, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals
••  J. Rowe Drums, Gong, Percussion, Water Drums
••  Jordan Schug Composer
••  Jason Ward Mastering
Limited edition set contains:

• LP, CD, bonus disc, tape, poster and book
Tecuciztecatl CD 44 minutes, digipak, includes lyrics
Tecuciztecatl Cassette 45 minutes, recorded from vinyl, plus bonus track
Tecuciztecatl LP 41 minutes, 180 gram vinyl, old style tip–on jacket
Poster 8” x 16”, suitable for framing or pinning to bedroom wall
Dark Reflections Bonus Disc 70 minutes, additional material, demos, extended, acoustic, new age
Book of Tecuciztecatl •  51 pages, 8” x 5”, soft cover, first edition, perfect bound, recording session diary, lyrics, rock opera background and narrative
•  HNIA’s stunning new offering is a rock opera depicting an epic struggle between identical twins, reflective in nature, and mirrored in twin science, secret language, and mythology. Described variously by the press as “absolutely beautiful” (CMJ), “a silver thread out of the labyrinth” (NME), and “haunted, wholly out of time or context” (Plan B), His Name Is Alive continues to mystify with Tecuciztecatl.
•  Beginning in Livonia, MI as an experimental bedroom dream pop project, HNIA has released a steady stream of music since their first self–released cassettes in the late-’80’s. One of label founder Ivo–Watts Russell’s Top 5 groups of all–time, HNIA would go on to release 7 albums on the 4AD label over a period of 13 years. Out of step with the Alterna–Grunge zeitgeist of the ’90’s, with the current ascension of horror soundtracks and other non–“rock” forms into both pop and underground music, HNIA’s time may have finally come.
•••  Experimental iconoclast Warren Defever and his long–running project His Name Is Alive are preparing to self–release a new album, Tecuciztecatl, and I've been lucky enough to give it a spin. The album is a fuzzy, phantasmagorical rock opera depicting the struggles of a young woman, pregnant with twins, as she comes to the realization that one of her babies might be demonic in origin. Inspired by the classic “Hammer Horror” films of the late 60s,  Tecuciztecatl is 45 minutes of shaggy, mellotron–fueled progness. Shimmy into your bellbottoms, slide into your high–heeled boots, and tune in for an erotically Gothic take on the mythology of twins. The album takes its name from the Aztec lunar deity of the same name, the “Old Moon God” or pareidolic “Man in the Moon”. The Fifth World of Aztec and Native American mythology began with the self–sacrifice of Tecuciztecatl, the handsomest and strongest of the gods, and Nanahuatl, the humblest and poorest. Tecuciztecatl was supposed to sacrifice himself first, but he hesitated and was upstaged when the simple Nanahuatl threw himself into the pyre. Tecuciztecatl followed Nanahuatl into the fire, but the status–conscious pantheon of gods were disgusted with Tecuciztecatl’s cowardice and threw a rabbit at him. The rabbit dimmed his brilliance to the point where he could only be seen at night, turning him into the moon to Nanahuatl’s sun.
•••  The album has a feel not unlike the conceptual work of fellow Michigander Sufjan Stevens or the baroque pop of San Fermin, with vocals handled exclusively by longtime HNIA collaborator Andrea Morici. Songs are a bit of a conceit here, as abrupt tempo and melody changes within tracks serve as narrative inflection points that propel the listener through the album’s storyline. The guitar work on Tecuciztecatl draws inspiration from a supercut of Thin Lizzy guitar solos cobbled together by Defever and guitarist Dusty Jones.
•••  I don’t think anyone would accuse Defever of making albums that are easily accessible or interpretable, but at its most insurmountable this album is surprisingly gorgeous. The African–inflected guitar work of ‘I Believe Your Heart Is No Longer Inside This Room’ and ‘African Violet Casts a Spell’ are stunning, especially as contrasted in the latter song by the inclusion of a water drum. The silky, sensually overdubbed vocals will appeal to fans of Skylar Gudasz and Julianna Barwick, the guitar work to fans of 70s British blues rock. Even if you can’t glom onto the larger narrative arc of the record, you can still marvel at the tradecraft of a master creating music the only way he knows how. (Metro Music Scene)
Review By T. Cole Rachel; November 5, 2014; Score: 7.6
••   Of all the bands to call British label 4AD home in the early ‘90s, none are as inscrutable — or wholly unpredictable — as His Name Is Alive. While the band’s early peers (the Breeders, Red House Painters) spent the better part of that decade honing singular aesthetics, His Name Is Alive were intent on doing the opposite. Early albums like Livonia and Stars on E.S.P. flirted with everything from shoegazey ephemera to sun–bleached California dream pop, but never lighted long enough on any one style to truly embody it. Warren Defever — the Michigan–based musician, songwriter, and mercurial heart of the band — embraces a kind of gleeful wanderlust, a predisposition that only intensified after the band parted ways with 4AD in the early 2000s. In the years since, Defever’s output has become even more of a willfully mixed bag, encompassing everything from spooky R&B, blown–out psych rock, meandering instrumental compositions, and — on 2007’s Sweet Earth Flower — an album–length tribute to free jazz saxophonist Marion Brown. Some 20 years deep into their career the only single thread twisting through all of His Name Is Alive’s music has been Defever’s own peculiar force of vision, which makes exploring the band’s now expansive back catalog both a satisfying and weirdly schizophrenic experience.
••   It should come as no surprise, then, that Tecuciztecatl — the band’s 14th full–length — is a thing both wonderful and extraordinarily strange. A concept record that comes with the worrisome descriptor of “psychedelic rock opera,” Tecuciztecatl involves a proggy narrative about a young woman who discovers she is pregnant with twins—one good, one evil — and must seek the help of a demon–hunting librarian. Each of the album’s nine tracks is written from the perspective of a different character and the whole melodrama is set to play out like the soundtrack to a gothic psych–rock horror movie that never actually was. (Additionally, every edition of the record — be it on vinyl, CD, or digital download — is unique, each with different mixes and tracklists.) Most records would surely collapse under the weight of this kind of conceptual pretense — the struggle of good versus evil as played out from within the womb! — but Tecuciztecatl succeeds due to the strength of the songs, all of which still operate nicely outside the confines of the album’s bloody narrative.
••   The album opens with “The Examination”, a 13–minute opus comprised of simmering, Yes–era synthscapes, a chorus of flutes, and — most flamboyantly — an arsenal of fuzzy, overdriven guitar lines twisting around each other. As the song morphs from prog–rock anthem into something resembling a messy garage–funk jam, vocalist Andrea Morici’s plaintive vocals provide a calming counterpoint: “Look into my eyes/ Look into the light all around you/ Make yourself at home.” As opening salvos go, it’s a doozy…and something the rest of the album never quite lives up to. Still, tracks like “Reflect Yourself” and “See You In a Minute” play around with classic rock power riffing in ways that are both ridiculous and kind of perfect.
••   Employing harmonious guitar solos that were apparently perfected by practicing along to an edit that Defever created of every Thin Lizzy guitar solo recorded between 1973 and 1983 (It’s a real thing. You can check it out on YouTube), much of Tecuciztecatl plays like a celebration of the kind of bombastic, gatefold double–album sonic excess that marked ‘70s bands like King Crimson and Emerson Lake and Palmer.
••   It would be easy for these sorts of rock opera theatrics to come across as jokey or ironically reverential, but Defever's earnest commitment never wavers. Psych–rock noodlings aside, it’s the more subdued tracks — the splish–splashy “African Violet Casts a Spell” and the pastoral vibes of album closer “The Cup” — that not only sound the most like classic His Name Is Alive, but also save the record from simply being a conceptual goof. Divorced from the album’s bizarro storyline, “I Believe Your Heart Is No Longer Inside This Room” would still rank as one of His Name Is Alive’s most inspired tracks — a song that manages to simultaneously address birth and death while also incorporating an orchestral snippet of “Joy to the World” in a way that somehow makes total sense. No small feat.
••   In the end Tecuciztecatl is an unusual treat because it manages to have it both ways. As an aspiring rock opera, the album is sufficiently bombastic, but it’s also surprisingly emotional. That the record can be both is a testament to Warren Defever’s kooky dexterity and his continued willingness to take big, weird conceptual risks — something that gets celebrated less and less within the increasingly homogenous landscape of what has come to be known as indie rock. Tecuciztecatl will certainly not be everybody’s cup of demon twin tea — and as albums go it is the very definition of a “grower” — but those willing to spend time with it will are to be rewarded with what is a sometimes challenging but ultimately strangely beautiful listen. :: http://pitchfork.com/ Also: By Michael Rodham–Heaps, http://freq.org.uk/reviews/his-name-is-alive-tecuciztecatl/
By Chris Witte on November 5, 2014  :: http://www.poppressinternational.com/2014/11/05/album-review-his-name-is-alive-tecuciztecatl/ :: Christopher Witte je spisovatel žijící v Los Angeles, CA, postižený nezdravou posedlostí nezávislých hudebních žánrů. Website: http://hisnameisalive.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hisnameisalive Silver Mountain: http://www.hisnameisalive.com/smmg/store/smmg043.html YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/silvermountainmedia Label: http://lightintheattic.net/releases/1471-tecuciztecatl
Selected Discography:
1986 Riotousness (tape)
1987 His Name is Alive (tape)
1988 I Had Sex With God (tape)
1990 How Ghosts Affect Relationships (4AD 7”)
1990 Livonia (25 June 1990, 4AD cd, lp, tape)
1990 Love Can’t Buy Happiness (tape)
1991 Hucklebuck 7a / 7b (tape)
1991 Home Is In Your Head (09 September 1991, 4AD cd, lp, tape)
1992 Blissfield, Mouth (tape)
1992 New Stars, New Tongue (tape)
1992 Dirt Eaters EP (4AD cd, lp, tape)
1992 Sings Man On The Silver Mountain (Rykodisc)
1993 King of Sweet (Perdition Plastics, cd)
1993 Mouth By Mouth (13 April 1993, 4AD / Warner Bros cd, lp, tape)
1993 93 w/ Red House Painters (4AD tape)
1993 Darlin w / Bash & Pop (Soil X Sample / Warner Bros 7”)
1994 Sound Of Mexico (Time Stereo tape)
1995 Wall Of Speed (Faster Records 7” unplayable)
1996 Universal Frequencies (4AD cd 7”)
1996 Stars On ESP (24 June 1996, 4AD / Warner Bros cd, lp)
1996 Live 1996 (Time Stereo series of twenty tapes)
1997 Country Girl (4AD / Warner Bros cd)
1997 My Canada w / Prolapse (Warped Reality / Eva–Tone Flexi)
1997 You Need A Heart To Live (Friendly Science 7")
1997 Michigan’s Finest (Time Stereo tape)
1997 Great Lakes State Blues (Time Stereo tape)
1997 Finer Twilights (Time Stereo tape)
1997 Golden City (TIme Stereo tape)
1997 Nice Day (4AD cd)
1997 Pets Farm w / Little Princess (Motorway 7")
1998 Drugs Farm w / Little Princess (Rocket Science 7")
1998 Melody Farm w / Little Princess (Shaolin Temple 7")
1998 Wish I Had A Wishing Ring (4AD cd)
1998 Woodstock (4AD 7")
1998 Ft Lake (18 July 1998, 4AD cd, lp)
1998 Can’t Always Be Loved (4AD cd, 7" single)
1998 Frog and Toad (Time Stereo tape)
1998 Radio LP (Time Stereo tape)
1998 Party Tape (Time Stereo vhs)
1999 Always Stay Sweet (4AD / Opción Sónica cd)
2000 Heart and Hand Box (Time Stereo cd)
2000 Ten Years Long Time (Time Stereo cd)
2000 In The West (Time Stereo cd)
2000 In The East (Time Stereo cd)
2000 RMX’s (Time Stereo cd)
2000 When The Stars Refuse To Shine (June 2000, Time Stereo cd)
2000 The Emergency Album (Time Stereo cd)
2000 Finer Twilights (Time Stereo cd)
2000 Golden City (Time Stereo cd)
2000 Early Music Vol. 1 (Time Stereo cd)
2000 Rare Tracks In The Snow (Time Stereo cd)
2001 Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth (21 August 2001, 4AD cd)
2001 Happy Blues w/ Susumu Yokota / Four Tet (4AD 12")
2001 Write My Name w/ Tony Ollivierra/ Ectomorph / Recloose (4AD 12")
2001 Nothing Special w/Burnt Friedmann / Herrmann & Kleine (4AD 12")
2001 Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most I (13 March 2001, Time Stereo cd)
2002 Last Night (23 September 2002, 4AD cd)
2003 Angel Hall with Ida, Low and Secret Stars (Last Affair cd)
2004 Dreem Up (09 November 2004, Silver Mountain Media Group download)
2004 Detroit River (cd)
2004 Leaf Club (Time Stereo cd)
2004 Cloud Box (Time Stereo cd)
2004 The Pine Cone (Time Stereo cd)
2004 Everglades National Park (Time Stereo cd)
2004 Detrola I (24 January 2006, Reincarnate Music, Time Stereo cd)
2004 Free Concert (Time Stereo cd)
2004 Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most II (Time Stereo cd)
2004 Wake Up, Jin (Time Stereo cd)
2005 Cloud Pop (Time Stereo download)
2005 Something Nothing (Time Stereo download)
2005 Raindrops Rainbow (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2005 UFO Catcher (En/Of lp)
2005 Summer Bird EP (Silver Mountain Media Group download)
2005 Summer Bird LP (19 April 2005, Ypsilanti Records cd)
2005 Brown Rice (Time Stereo cd) 2005 USA vs Gamelan (Time Stereo cd)
2006 Detrola (Silver Mountain Media Group / Sony cd)
2006 Livonia Strings (Silver Mountain Media cd)
2007 Sweet Earth Flower — A Tribute To Marion Brown (11/06/2007, High Two cd)
2007 Xmmer (02 October 2007, Silver Mountain Media Group / Sony cd)
2007 Firefly Dragonfly (Acuarela Discos cd)
2007 Silver Makeup (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Dream Rememberer (Silver Mountain Media Group (7" download)
2010 The Eclipse Box (31 July 2010, Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Eclipx (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Silver Dragon w Faruq Z. Bey (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Silver Family (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Silver Piano NYC (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Silver Sunrise (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Silver Piano UFO (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Fire Mix Zero Zero (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Silver Piano MOCAD (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2010 Come To The Front (Silver Mountain Media Group cd)
2011 The Raccoons (Time Stereo cd, sculpture)
2011 King Of Sweet (Handmade Birds 2xLP)
2013 Dragons Look Out Your Window (Midnight Cowboy cd)
2013 Home Is (Midnight Cowboy cd)
2013 Cliff Bells Vanilla (Midnight Cowboy dvd)
2014 Tecuciztecatl (London London cd, lp)
Andrea Francesca Morici
Posted on 11/27/2013 by SERAPHINECOLLECTIVE
••   The incredible voice and front–woman for Warren Defever’s long–standing experimental rock band His Name Is Alive, Andrea Morici was previously best known as the keyboardist for Detroit underground favorites the Tranzistors and Sonapanic.
••   She’s been playing piano for most of her life. She’s a visual artist and jewelry designer, and is about as unpretentious as they come. I interviewed her at Motor City Brewing Works on November 10, 2013.
INTERVIEW: http://seraphinecollective.org/2013/11/27/andrea-morici/
His Name Is Alive Biography
••   Named after history class notes on Abraham Lincoln, the Livonia, MI–based sonic manipulators His Name Is Alive formed when multi–instrumentalist/producer Warren Defever (also of shockabilly group Elvis Hitler) was still in high school. Defever, former schoolmate Karin Oliver (vocals), and drummer Damian Lang released self–produced cassettes of their music, one of which made its way to Ivo Watts–Russell, founder of the pioneering art label 4AD. Intrigued with His Name Is Alive’s blend of spectral vocals, poetic lyrics, and textural guitars, Watts signed the band. The group recorded its first release for the label, Livonia, in Defever's home studio. The album features Oliver's shivery vocals along with tape loops, samples, and guitar blasts, for a noise–damaged, ethereal collection of songs about ghosts, reincarnation, and dreams. By 1992's Home Is in Your Head, the band’s lineup and scope expanded. New singers Denise James, Karen Neal, Melissa Elliott, and guitarist Jymn Auge added depth and breadth to the band’s original lineup. An epic 23 songs long, Home Is in Your Head ranges from folky ballads to electrifying guitar maelstroms and tape collages. That year also saw the release of The Dirt Eaters EP, named for Defever's other, more rock–oriented group, of which Elliot was also a member. In 1993, His Name Is Alive released two albums: King of Sweet, a limited–edition release that mixed tape effects, samples, demos, and unreleased songs, and Mouth by Mouth, which added more pop structure into the group's inherently experimental and dreamy sound, resulting in its most accessible and diverse album to that date. A new drummer, Trey Many, took over Lang's duties. As Defever's reputation as an innovative producer spread, he lent his skills to bands like Grenadine, a side project of Tsunami's Jenny Toomey and Unrest's Mark Robinson, other 4AD acts like Liquorice (which featured Toomey, Dan Littleton from Ida, and His Name Is Alive’s Many) and Tarnation, and other Detroit–area bands like Godzuki and Outrageous Cherry. Defever also worked on other projects, including the folky ESP Summer (with former Pale Saint Ian Masters) and the electronic Robot World and Control Panel, and founded the Time Stereo art collective with a childhood friend, artist/musician Davin Brainard. Some of Time Stereo's projects included films, coloring books, and cassette–only releases from bands like Princess Dragon Mom, the Crash, Godzuki, New Grape, and Noise Camp. Defever’s diverse interests influenced His Name Is Alive’s next release, 1996’s Stars on ESP. Very little of the group’s original ethereal sound remained, augmented instead with touches of dub, folk, gospel, and early– to mid–‘60s pop like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. At the time of the album's release, Defever claimed that he was so fascinated by the group’s “Good Vibrations” that he listened to it for months at a time. The following year's Nice Day EP reached to garage rock and ‘60s R&B for its inspiration, and featured some of the gospel singers from Stars on ESP, including Lovetta Pippen, whose singing also gave His Name Is Alive's 1998 LP, Fort Lake, an earthy sensuality. Fort Lake also marked the first time the band worked with another producer, recording engineer Steve King. King, another Livonia native, had also worked with Funkadelic and Aretha Franklin, and his touch meshes nicely with the funk, soul, and classic rock allusions His Name Is Alive makes on the album. In preparation for recording Fort Lake — named after a waterlogged Civil War fort in Michigan — the group played monthly shows at the Gold Dollar, a tiny Detroit club. At this time, Pippen, bassist Chad Gilchrist, and additional drummer Scott Goldstein debuted as part of the new lineup. In 1999, His Name Is Alive released a U.S. compilation of tracks from their first five albums called Always Stay Sweet; at the time, those albums were only available as British imports.
••  Like the rest of the band's work, the compilation highlights their mercurial, unique nature. Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth appeared two years later. Released in 2002, the darkly soulful Last Night ended up being the group's final album for 4AD, but His Name Is Alive found other outlets for their music, and were actually busier than ever. Time Stereo released several CDs, such as 2004’s ten–disc Cloud Box set, Leaf Club, Brown Rice, and The Detroit River, as well as many MP3–only works, including the Summer Bird and Something/Nothing EPs and a remastered version of King of Sweet. UFO Catcher was released in 2005 on CD by the German label En/Of and on vinyl by Time Stereo, while Ypsilanti Records issued the full–length Summer Bird that spring. That year, Defever also set up the Silver Mountain imprint, which was distributed by Sony BMG. Late in 2005, His Name Is Alive released the Raindrops Rainbow EP via iTunes as a teaser for Detrola, their debut for Reincarnate, also the home of fellow former 4AD artist Lisa Germano and Sing–Sing, the project of former Lush member Emma Anderson. The album featured new vocalist Andrea Francesca Morici, aka Andy FM. In late summer 2007, His Name Is Alive released Xmmer, which expanded on Detrola’s sound with African and Asian influences. That fall, Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown — which augmented excerpts from a 2004 tribute concert to the legendary saxophonist with studio tracks — arrived. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi Fortaken: http://www.artistdirect.com/

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