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Despite the group's rather complicated history and numerous manifestations, HiM is largely the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Doug Scharin. A member of the rich Midwest indie scene, Scharin began HiM as a side project during downtime from his various day jobs (including membership in Codeine, Rex, and June of 44). HiM's music is consistently labeled as a dub-heavy brand of post-rock. Drawing freely upon the numerous influences of its members, the group is more accurately a fusion of rock, post-punk, jazz, and Afro-beat, with an ear for studio-enhanced roots reggae.
Founded in 1995, HiM's first releases were comprised of Scharin's solo studio exploration. Using the equipment recently acquired by his band Rex, he began assembling the tracks for his first release, 1995's Egg. The following year, while visiting Bill Laswell's Greenpoint Studios in New York, the drummer had a chance encounter with Wordsound label head Skiz Fernando. As a result, HiM's "Chemical Mix" was featured on the first Crooklyn Dub Consortium compilation. A Wordsound full-length, Interpretive Belief System, followed in 1997.
It wasn't until 1999 that Scharin made an initial attempt at establishing a regular working group. That year, Tortoise/Isotope 217 alumnus Bundy K. Brown (bass), Jeff Parker (guitar), and Rob Mazurek (cornet) convened to record Sworn Eyes. A series of polyrhythmic, dubwise excursions, the album's basic tracks were processed and edited by Scharin à la Teo Macero (the mastermind producer behind the electric Miles Davis recordings of the 1970s). The scheduling for such a prolific group proved far too arduous, however — HiM was merely a diversion for the other musicians — and Scharin was forced to try again.
When his then-full-time outfit June of 44 dissolved, the drummer took two-thirds of the group on the road with him. Upon completing the tour, guitarist Sean Meadows declined the job offer, but bassist/trumpeter Fred Erskine remained. Erskine had been playing music since his childhood and was adept at violin, piano, and trumpet by age eight. He soon abandoned the instruments to sing and play bass in various punk groups. A series of jobs with Hoover, the Boom, Crownhate Ruin, and B. & Jay followed before the formation of June of 44 in 1995. Scharin and Erskine were joined by the latter's Boom bandmate Carlo Cennamo for what would be the first reasonably stable lineup since the group's inception. Their first release together, Our Point of Departure, emerged on Perishable in 1999. Enhanced by a genealogically complex cast of characters that included Sasha Frere-Jones (Ui), Shane Trost, Joseph McRedmond, Joshua LaRue, and second drummers Jon Theodore and Neil Turpin, HiM hit the road for 2000 tours of the U.S. and Europe. On-stage, the group employed an instrument-swapping bass, drums, keyboard, and horn lineup.
Scharin and company were finally hitting their stride. Expanded to a septet, with Theodore, LaRue, Devin O'Campo, and Vin Novara, HiM entered San Francisco's Pig's Head Studios to record material for the follow-up to Our Point of Departure. Five & Six in Dub, a three-track remix taster, was released in December of 2000. The critically acclaimed New Features arrived the following summer, and Many in High Places Are Not Well appeared in 2003. After taking yet another brief hiatus, the group realigned itself and issued 2006's Peoples on the Bubblecore imprint in 2006.