His Name Is Alive - Livonia

This stunning LP was released in 1990 on the mighty 4AD. I bought this on the day that it was released, simply because it was on that label. 4AD not only had a really coherent aesthetic but they were the home of the likes of Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, The Birthday Party, Throwing Muses, Pixies, Cocteau Twins, The Wolfgang Press and Lush. It seemed like everything was solid gold and a new 4AD release was a major event. Naturally, I could not wait to get home to play this...

I had never heard His Name Is Alive prior to this so didn't really know what to expect. Not a major surprise given that this was their debut. It quite simply wrecked my head! It left me exhilarated, transfixed and terrified. The music is the work of Warren Defever (Guitar, Bass and Sampler) with the occasional percussion of Damian Lang (who was later in the great The Detroit Cobras). The vocals of Angie Carozzo and Karin Oliver are utterly sublime and majestic. However beautiful this LP is, it has a really dark heart. Just underneath the surface there is an almost tangible malevolence.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my parents would go out on the piss at the weekend and leave me in charge of my brother and sister. I'd spend that time watching old Count Yorga horror flicks and such like. I remember one Saturday night when I was at my most scared, I heard a noise in the garden but couldn't bring myself to pull back the curtain because I knew that what was out there was worse than I could possibly imagine. The first time I heard this LP it threw me straight back into that headspace. The only other LP that had ever affected me in that way was Psychic TV's "Dreams Less Sweet" (nothing has affected like this since). There are parts of Livonia that are the opposite side of the coin to "Always Is Always".

Whilst this was released in Europe in 1990, it didn't get an American release until 1992. I don't think that this has ever been re-released since then and I can only assume that this is because of some kind of "contractual difficulties". Criminal really...

This remains one of my very favourite things!

If that isn't recommendation enough, try this: back in the day I knew people that had their own record stores and we used to pull down the shutters and have many all night debauched sessions. On one such occasion, I pulled this off the shelf and played it out. An old hippie completely freaked out and started fighting people. Now there's a recommendation!

I'm following in your evil ways...


blee,  11 April 2014 at 08:01  

Amazing. This is beautiful, haunting music. Thank you for sharing. His Name Is Alive is fantastic. I've never heard of them.

Carlo,  12 April 2014 at 11:06  

If you like this, I suggest you to try also Skinner Box.
Thank you.

Andrew McIntosh,  12 April 2014 at 12:31  

Fantastic. I had a tape of this album some years ago. It struck me then as very unique, albeit very 4AD (hints of loveliescrushing). I recall downloading a cover of "How Ghosts Affect Relationships" by a violinist from MP3.com, when that still existed and didn't suck. I also recall trying to track this band down and hearing some material that just didn't measure up to this album, unfortunately. But I do know they had another album just as good (had a song called "Are You Coming Home For The Weekend?" or something like that). Thanks for uploading this and for the memories.

(One slight grumble - maybe ripped a bit too loudly? There's a noticeable distortion on some of the higher notes).

Anonymous,  14 April 2014 at 15:31  

When you mention "Dreams Less Sweet", are you referring to the track "The Full Pack"?? One of the only works of music I consider terrifying every time I hear it. That and Scott Walker~~

badgerstump 14 April 2014 at 16:56  

No, The Full Pack has parts that are similar to parts of Livonia. I suppose I mention Always Is Always because of the way that it set me up when I first heard Dreams Less Sweet (and it still gets me every time I listen to that LP). It's beautiful. Just when you feel that there is some respite ... the door opens to what is really going on. The Manson Family connection nails the truly sinister aspect.

There are parts of this LP that do the same thing for me. Just when it is at its most beautiful, it takes a swerve and its all been false reassurance.

I suppose it is all about my emotional reaction. But that is what all great music should be about!

Jakob von Gunten 27 April 2014 at 16:44  

Oh, you've made me want to play this record again after quite a while! Early HNIA is just awesome (Livonia, Home Is In Your Head, and the How Ghosts Affect Relationships EP). It's a pity they released mainly missable material after an astonishing start, though.