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H.I.M.: New Features

Expanding global experimentation even wider, but with a raw, earthy and honest sensibility is multi-instrumentalist Doug Scharin’s makeshift ensemble H.I.M. (His Imperial Majesty). On the group’s haunting fifth effort, New Features (Bubblecore BC-034; 59:35), the musicians eschew the heavy studio razzle-dazzle and deliver crunchy excursions worthy of its scintillating live performances. Mutating grooves from around the world, H.I.M. successfully throws down some housequaking Afro-beat (without slavishly aping Fela Kuti), reggae’s hypnosis (without putting you to sleep) and jazz interplay without sounding artsy. Saxophonist Carlo Cennamo and guitarist Josh LaRue map out unison lines that unravel pensively before braying off into more dangerous territory, and thanks to Scharin’s infectious drumming and Fred Erskin’s driving bass lines, H.I.M.’s adventures are undeniably infectious. New Features is one of those lesser-hyped finds that sublimely extends the smart-fusion legacy of Weather Report.

Originally Published