Here Lies Man is somehow from both the past and the future. Drop the needle on You Will Know Nothing and the fuzzy production screams retro, but the music is nothing like you’ve ever heard. The band claims they’re what would happen if Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi started an afrobeat band, but even that’s underselling their originality. Think more along the lines of Fela Kuti with a Blue Cheer record teaching Iommi a whole new style in the sweltering Nigerian heat.
Here Lies Man is comprised of famed afrobeat group Antibalas‘ vocalist and guitarist Marcos Garcia and ex-Antibalas drummer Geoff Mann. You Will Know Nothing also includes percussionists Richard Panta and Reinaldo DeJesus, as well as interludes performed by ex-Antibalas keyboardist Victor Axelrod. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Here Lies Man pulls off their hard rock brand of afrobeat “directly from Africa” sound so flawlessly.
“Animal Noises” and “Summon Fire” start off You Will Know Nothing on sturdy, confident footing. Here Lies Man makes it clear with these tracks that there will be an excess of riffs and that each component of every song is undeniably vital to its composition. Where the guitars and keyboards are doling out crunchy licks on the two openers, Here Lies Man‘s rhythm section weaves in complimentary rhythms to stitch together a singular musical entity crackling with energetic life.
While the previous two songs leap at you with full force, “Blindness” approaches a little slower and with an aura of unbeatable confidence. “Blindness” is the best heavy song that nobody has thought of yet, in a genre that nobody else was clever enough to invent. “Blindness” employs just a touch of swing, and coupled with the bluesy stop-and-go riffs in the middle section, embodies the laid-back heaviness that Here Lies Man effectively pioneers.
Rounding out the aggressive tendencies of You Will Know Nothing is “Fighting,” whose lyrical hook around the song’s theme urges you to maybe just shut your fucking mouth. Vocals engage in a game of call-and-response with Here Lies Man‘s signature chorus-heavy keyboard sounds while percussion enjoys a brief solo laced with heavily layered rhythmic interplay.
You Will Know Nothing isn’t all about distorted tropical melodies and blasting one-hundred-degree heat through your headphones. On songs like “Voices At The Window” and “Floating On Water,” Here Lies Man simply succumbs to the blistering summer weather and melts under the conditions with wobbling keyboard lines, quick and echoing reggae-like chordal jabs, and subdued percussion.
Finally, the sun has gone down and you’ve made it to the closer “You Ought To Know.” You’re overheating and just about to pass out when Garcia’s gently distorted guitar slowly swells into your ears under distant vocals. Dreamy keyboards and rolling drums accompany your descent into a muggy and rapidly-approaching sleep. “You Ought To Know” hits its final notes and drifts off into the setting sun as Garcia plays you out with a simple, sweet melody.
You Will Know Nothing impeccably flows from one song to the next. Cuts like “Animal Noises” and “Taking The Blame” end with brief, lo-fi interludes that break up You Will Know Nothing beautifully, yet are still interesting mini-pieces of music all on their own. It also helps that every song off the album is unique enough to be instantly identifiable while still forming a cohesive record-listening experience. It’s the type of album that you’re never going to get to that one track you absolutely need to skip, or that ruins the flow. Here Lies Man is just too talented and aware of what they’re doing to ruin a piece of art like that.
You Will Know Nothing is produced so that on the surface it sounds warm like vinyl, but each instrument and segment of the densely-layered percussion is clearly distinguishable. No matter if Here Lies Man is leaving you out to burn on “Hell (Wooly Tail)” or burying Mann’s drums under two feet of dirt like on “Floating On Water,” you still get a nice sense of what went into each track with a condensed but detailed soundstage. Garcia says the album is very much a headphone album and he’s right – You Will Know Nothing has a fantastic intimacy that’s much better enjoyed close up.
Now get out there and stand in the all-encompassing and forward-thinking original warmth that is Here Lies Man. You won’t find another band that even comes close to imitating them.
You Will Know Nothing is out June 15. Buy it here.