Friday, December 7, 2012

Dog Faced Hermans - Hum of Life [1993]

Sometimes I'm shooting the shit about music with someone or having some other idle conversation, and one of us will mention Dog Faced Hermans. Inevitably we'll both crack a grin of having the shared knowledge of the band. Because they're criminally overlooked among your Sonic Youths and Chumbawumbas of the late '80s/early '90s. Their sound really cannot and should not be aped -- much in the same way that Can made music that was singularly Can, the Hermans' music was a convergence of four personalities whose expression at all times openly defied the restrictions of a 'style' that might be copied or clotted into some fad subgenre. Musical and philosophical connections with the Ex are readily discernable, as Andy Moor was playing with these guys in Scotland for years before he joined up with those Hollanders, and the two bands frequently collaborated and toured together.

"How We Connect" is a perfect example of what makes the Hermans so great. Stomping, bassy drums, excavator-engine bass, aggressive horns, and guitar that scuffles and screes on a no-wave frequency, only to stop on a dime and change to something resembling West African highlife. And then there's Marion's vocals. She never really yells so much as sings fiercely, with a poetic clarity that demands your attention and thought. Definitely a good LP band, because these folks know how to exercise song dynamics (for all the experimentation the Hermans engaged in, they wrote good songs, first and foremost). They close this album with Ornette Coleman's "Peace Warrior," a rollicking punch in the gut of a cover that fuses free improv jazz with punk in the most brilliant and intuitive way.

Hum of Life has been out of print for a long time, but in 2009 the vinyl was reissued on Mississippi Records, a very cool-sounding establishment in Portland. I don't know if it's still available, and the store/label's web presence is rather scant, but see if you can get in touch with them to find out: their facebook page has their contact info. For those of you who aren't registered on that NSA shadow site, there's always the old-fashioned physical location/phone number:

Mississippi Records
4007 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, Oregon 97227
(503) 282-2990

Mystery lies in the space between us, I make sound which approaches language

1 comment:

  1. Aw hell yeah, I love this album, lost it years ago and I've been looking for it since. Thanks!