"The debut album from LA quintet Here Lies Man is being promoted with the question: "What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?" It certainly grabs the attention, but potentially smacks of gimmicky conceit. Thankfully, being the brainchild of Marcos Garcia from the Fela Kuti-inspired Antibalas, what we get is a genuine hybrid of styles rather than a hipster mash-up. Opening track When I Come To establishes the formula that they pretty much stick to for the rest of the album: chunky fuzz riffs riding a busy polyrhythmic groove, with lots of congas in the mix plus Garcia's throaty invocatory vocals. There's an obvious comparison to be made with Goat, but Here Lies Man deliver a heavier, denser take on ethno-psychedelia. Yet the really intriguing element to their sound is the distorted, high-register organ melodies that warble overhead like exotic birds in the forest canopy, and recall the tropical dub of Sun Araw. They occasionally stray from their formula - I Stand Alone ends with a hypnotic drum break over an eerie ambient pulse and So Far Away has a spacey garage-horror vibe - but this is an album that crackles with a blazing, single-minded intensity, celebrating the riff as a cross-cultural mantra."
- Prog 75
"Los Angeles heavy-psych-gone-Afrobeat outfit Here Lies Man will issue their self-titled debut next week through RidingEasy Records. Preorders are up now ahead of an April 7 release date. I think even the band would probably have to admit that not everyone who hears the album is going to get it, but even if that’s so, for those who do, the eight-track offering is bound to be taken as a treasure. Amid a seemingly endless slew of traditionalism in underground rock, Here Lies Man — the fuzz-‘n’-funked-up brainchild of Antibalas guitarist/vocalist Marcos J. Garcia — tread a different path. Garcia, whose affinity for Ethiopian psychedelic rock and particularly the work of Fela Kuti in defining Afrobeat comes through in the resonant percussiveness of cuts like “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” the instrumental “Belt of the Sun” and the repetitions throughout “When I Come To,” the closing title-track and so on, spearheads the conceptualist outing, but the vibe across the record’s entire span is one of pure rhythmic celebration. Here Lies Man sound more like a festival than a band, and yeah, not everyone’s gonna get that, but those who do will find it impossible not to be swept up by their multi-tiered pulsations.
Among the album’s many hooks is that of its concept. It’s the first question the PR wire asked in sending notification of the record, and you can see it below: What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat? If your answer for the question isn’t, “Well, that would be fucking awesome,” then you can probably count yourself among the “not gonna get it” above, but as a thematic foundation for the sonic territory that Here Lies Man are exploring, it’s a question as appropriate as it is evocative. But neither is it the sum total of what the record winds up offering. Because if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat, it would be riffs and percussion. Fine. Here Lies Man expand beyond this in the proclamations of “I Stand Alone” and the swaggering ultrafunk of “Letting Go.” It’s not just about bringing two seemingly disparate components together in a sonic collider — it’s about the new molecules discovered as a result of that and how those can be manipulated into something genuinely individual. Much to Here Lies Man‘s credit — and the credit of their experience as players and songwriters; because while it’s a new project it’s not necessarily a new band — they bring their debut to that high standard and flesh out something bold from the pieces of its creation, finding a whole from the sum of its parts that’s brightly colored and brimming with a vitality of expression and swirl all its own. Their starting point may be that central question, but where they end up is a different wavelength altogether.
And they’re better for it. Certainly the approach makes them an outlier among the more traditional forms of heavy proffered by RidingEasy acts like Monolord, Electric Citizen or Slow Season, but that’s obviously the point, and the progressive aspects of Here Lies Man‘s approach are writ large over the commitment to aesthetic that the band shows throughout. Seems like more than it would be reasonably fair to ask of a debut album, and yet the songs not only realize this multifaceted sonic persona, they set it up for future development should Garcia and his cohorts choose such pursuit. One hopes they do.
Today I’ve got the pleasure of hosting the premiere of “Here Lies Man” from Here Lies Man‘s Here Lies Man. As you might expect, it sums up a lot of what they’re going for in terms of sound and their overall take, and if you want to know just what the hell I’m talking about in the above ramblings, it’s all right there."
- JJ Koczan, The Obelisk