5 out of 5
Produced by: HiM
Evolving, as ever: HiM’s Peoples gathers the flowing and grooving world beats of Many in High Places and Nantes and wraps them back into the group’s previous faze as jazz experimenters, the ups the ante further by polishing it all with the Chicago post-rock of staples like Tortoise and their bandmates’ many offshoots. But the driving force for Scharin – ringleader of the band – has almost always been momentum, of keeping any given song shifting while it’s moving forward, and that’s incredibly clear on Peoples, on which every single moment, even when there’s a break or a pause, is milked for maximum effect. And that mindset is often what has placed Scharin and crew in a different grouping from all their “sounds like” namechecks, whether it was the progressive edge to their jazzier albums, or the post-rock grounding of when electronics and globe-trotting sounds started to be a bigger component.
Peoples starts off with the kind of comfortable, breezy pacing of the preceding discs, but signals a change once Scharin kicks off the drums, ushering in a sense of precision and intensity that builds up and up through the beat-centered Shuddered, before reeling it in a bit for something that finds its way inbetween that extreme and Many in High Places’ chill. That’s not to say this is “heavy” music – Adam Pierce and a slew of additional vocalists and other players are on hand to offer heavenly chanting and singing and dashes of winds and strings – just that the group is getting down to dang business, killing it track after track up through the penultimate In These Times, which is a 10-minute celebratory declaration of how far the group (in its many incarnations) has come… by swinging back around to straight-up jazz.
Because HiM’s releases often maintain a particular mood throughout, that generally means I have to be in a mood to match to get into it. Peoples is, appropriately, all encompassing. It’s always a good time for it.