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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and haunting, this grows on you, 22 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Livonia (Audio CD)
The first album from American band His Name Is Alive left me a little disappointed initially. I had heard 'Some and I' and searched out a copy of 'Livonia' expecting more of the same. What I found was an album of minimalist music that actually, over time has really grown on me . 'Livonia' is a sparse offering of lovely vocals with an eclectic mix of instrumental bursts. At times it can sound pretty weird, but once you get into the music it works rather well. Comparisons I suppose will relate to the Cocteau Twins or My Bloody Valentine, but HNIA are the stripped down version. No multi layered lushness here, but something different ,well worth spending time getting to know.Every listen reveals a new sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The strart Of Something Great, 31 Aug 2009
By 
Mj P. French "digital guy" (Plymouth U.K) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Livonia (Audio CD)
4AD have given us some unique artists over the years, and this album is no exeption.
His name is alive have been around for a while now but this album was their debut and shows the potential that was realised through subsequent albums. It's a work in progress that hints at the greatness to come, A higlight is the track "How ghosts affect relationships" It takes several listens to uncover it's gold but the persistance pays off. It's a richly layered album of amazing sound and vocals that is also quite haunting at times. It's a bit of a forgotten classic. If you want something out of the ordinary that's not plastic manufactured rubbish,then go for this album. This album is both rich and strange but has a unique beauty that has never ben matched by others. I listened to this album again after not having done so for a while and am still taken in by it amazing depth of expression. It could be the soundtrack to a film noir. It has a deark beauty that is punctuated by moments of light. The other track that stands out is "Fossil" Vocals are provided by Karin Oliver and Angie Carozzo and these two voices blend beautifully and add a seam of silver to the layers of musical gold. The album artwork is also amazing but all artwork created for 4AD releases is something special, but the artwork gives you an idea of what you'll hear as you listen to this album. If you collect 4AD this is a must have for your collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "...when you dream of things you don't understand", 19 Jan 2014
This review is from: Livonia (Audio CD)
His Name is Alive revolved around Michigan resident Warren Defever, a multi-instrumentalist, with vocals provided by various friends, most notably Karin Oliver. Defever had been recording music in his basement since the mid-80s, tapes of which he had begun to send to indie label 4AD in the hope of being signed. After several rejections, Defever's persistence in sending reworked versions of his recordings paid off when 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell took several tracks from the tapes and, aided and abetted by producer John Fryer (This Mortal Coil, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails), deconstructed, remixed and reassembled them like mosaics.

His Name is Alive's music, like their name, doesn't quite make sense. It is fractured, disturbing, unsettling. "Livonia", their 1990 debut album, ably captures the sensation when you wake from a deep sleep, in the midst of a dream, and you're not quite sure if you're awake and whether what you're thinking about is real or part of the dream. The songs often evoke the half-remembered; memories you can't quite grasp. The song titles tell you plenty about the overall feel of the album too: "You and I Have Seizures", "Caroline's Supposed Demon", "How Ghosts Affect Relationships". On the surface, there are sonic similarities with Ivo Watts-Russell's This Mortal Coil project, but His Name is Alive are much darker, inhabiting the same nightmare world as David Lynch, Jan Švankmajer and later collaborators The Brothers Quay. The music is often chaotic, with sharp contrasts of ambient passages and jarring experimental shards. The lyrics are darkly surreal and, like the music, leave more questions than they provide answers.

His Name is Alive were tagged by some as Goth, as music that touches upon darkness or eerieness all too often (and lazily) is. Anyone who saw the band live at this time, though, would attest to the far quirkier and knowingly absurd side of Defever's character and performance, far removed from the likes of Bauhaus and The Sisters of Mercy. Such absurdity would make itself more evident in later recordings. Second album "Home is in Your Head" contains a chorus of children singing the refrain "Put your finger in your eye" over and over, for example. At the same time, tracks like "Are We Still Married?" and "There's Something Between Us and He's Changing My Words" continued the creepiness and the sense of dislocation of "Livonia", and it made perfect sense when animators Stephen and Timothy Quay created a short film to accompany the former.

His Name is Alive's third album for 4AD "Mouth by Mouth" was much more of a noisy pop album, lighter in tone, with diverse influences from 1960s pop to free jazz making themselves apparent. Subsequent releases became more playful, including the wonderful Beach Boys pastiche "Bad Vibrations", as Defever brought out diverse and seemingly unlikely influences in the music, ranging from R&B to soul, gospel to country.

Whilst His Name is Alive remain an interesting proposition to this day, with Defever's clearly restless and adventurous spirit at the helm, it is the first three or four albums that continue to fascinate and inspire. Of these, "Livonia" is the one I find myself returning to most often. As with much of the best music, the more you listen, the more you find. It is also music with no easy answers. Some things in life should remain mysterious, and therein lies much of the appeal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The earlier work is gorgeous !, 28 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Livonia (Audio CD)
This album is sublime. He went off the rails after the third album - but this, being his earliest work, is genius. A typical 4AD band/album, full of originality and atmosphere. If you love This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins and early Dead Can Dance, this will not disappoint.
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Livonia
Livonia by His Name Is Alive (Audio CD - 2007)
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