Style: Experimental Rock, Dream Pop, Indie Rock .
Similar artists: Throwing Muses, Belly, Red House Painters.
Recording year: 4AD, 1990.
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.
Livonia, is the group's artiest, most explicitly experimental release. It's also the most haphazard, in terms of musical success; the affecting ("If July," "Fossil") sits next to the affected ("You and I Have Seizures," "Reincarnation"). Even at its most contrived, however, Livonia features the elements the group used later to create their distinctive style: Karin Oliver's shimmery, ghostly voice and Warren Defever's open-minded production. Defever commented later that he saw himself as an avant-garde composer during the Livonia period; the album's found sounds, tape loops, and samples do give it an artsy and occasionally precious patina. At its best, Livonia explores death, dreams, and spirituality with transcendent music and lyrics. At its worst, it's an ambitious debut, introducing a creative, aspiring band.
Fields Of Haze... Underground for all.