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Album Review

His Name Is Alive's debut album, Livonia, is the group's artiest, most explicitly experimental release. It's also the most haphazard, in terms of musical success; the affecting ("If July," "Fossil") sits next to the affected ("You and I Have Seizures," "Reincarnation"). Even at its most contrived, however, Livonia features the elements the group used later to create their distinctive style: Karin Oliver's shimmery, ghostly voice and Warren Defever's open-minded production. Defever commented later that he saw himself as an avant-garde composer during the Livonia period; the album's found sounds, tape loops, and samples do give it an artsy and occasionally precious patina. At its best, Livonia explores death, dreams, and spirituality with transcendent music and lyrics. At its worst, it's an ambitious debut, introducing a creative, aspiring band.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Livonia, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Named after history class notes on Abraham Lincoln, the Livonia, Michigan-based sonic manipulators His Name Is Alive formed when multi-instrumentalist/producer Warren Defever (also of shockabilly group Elvis Hitler) was still in high school. Defever, former schoolmate Karin Oliver (vocals), and drummer Damian Lang released self-produced cassettes of their music, one of which made its way to Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the pioneering art label 4AD. Intrigued with His Name Is Alive's blend of spectral...
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Livonia, His Name Is Alive
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