Here Lies Man - Ritual Divination LPRiding Easy Records
Four albums in, the convenient and generalized catchphrase for Here Lies Man’s erudite sound—if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat—might seem a little played out. But Ritual Divination is perhaps the best rendering of the idea so far. Particularly on the Sabbath side of the equation: The guitars are heavier and more blues-based than before, but the ancient rhythmic formula of the clave remains a constant.
“Musically it’s an opening up more to traditional rock elements,” says vocalist / guitarist / cofounder Marcos Garcia, who also plays guitar in Antibalas. “It’s always been our intention to explore. And, as we travelled deeper into this musical landscape, new features revealed themselves.”
The L.A. based band comprised of Antibalas members have toured relentlessly following their breakout 2017 self-titled debut. Their second album, You Will Know Nothing and an EP, Animal Noises, both followed in 2018. Third album No Ground To Walk Upon emerged in August 2019. All of them were crafted by Garcia and cofounder / drummer Geoff Mann (former Antibalas drummer and son of jazz musician Herbie Mann) in their L.A. studio between tours. Ritual Divination is their first album recorded as the full four-piece band, including bassist JP Maramba and keyboardist Doug Organ.
This album continues with an ongoing concept of the band playing the soundtrack to an imaginary movie, with each song being a scene. Musically and sonically, the album is also self-reflexive. “On this album the feel changes within a song,” Garcia says. “Whereas before each song was meant to induce a trancelike state, now more of the songs have their own arc built in.”
“We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs,” Garcia continues. “Tony Iommi’s (Black Sabbath) innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are taking that same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi it was the blues, for us it comes directly from Africa.”