H.U.M - Trinity Way

by Sean Hewson Rating:6 Release Date:2016-06-18

Trinity Way is the debut album from H.U.M. (the initials of Héloïse Zamzamrec, Olmo Uiutna and Mark Wagner). The band view the album as ‘a magic door, a sonic portal’ and that they have ‘a common goal of expanding consciousness.’ Being as they are also on Rocket Recordings and have some connections with Gnod these sound like genuine possibilities.

Unfortunately, for me at least, Trinity Way doesn’t quite do it. The band’s sound is a combination of ritualistic noise, Free Jazz percussion and  trance-like rhythms (quite like early Current 93 and similar bands from that post-Throbbing Gristle time in the early ‘80s). Over the top of this the lyrics are intoned rather than sung. The lyrics themselves pull quotes from The Bible, The Quran, Hindusim, Hermeticism as well as from pop songs (A-ha and The Korgis in L.O.V.E.). So we've simultaneously got primal sounds, high ideas and pop lyrics. And H.U.M. try to combine them all to create a kind of transcendental/transformative experience. They do this to varying degrees of success throughout Trinity Way. The tracks that work best for me are the instrumental Cat-Man-Do, which is based on a Shamanic initiation and builds and builds, taking you with it; and L'Ame Agit (based on Francoise Hardy's 'Comment Te Dire Adieu') which mixes evil hum and an electronic pulse before breaking into a slow groove which, again, takes you with it.

The lyrics to L’Ame Agit are all in French and it’s no coincidence that the two songs that I engage with most don't have lyrics that I can understand. I find the lyrics on this album a little difficult. Not bad, just difficult. I find the quoting and punning (A Maze In Grace) a little distracting. I also feel that the expansion of consciousness that they are reaching for is so universal and fundamental that it is simultaneously complex and basic (like trying to describe love) and the more you try to explain it the further away you get. That is why simple sayings like 'I am that I am' and 'That which is above is like that which is below' (both quoted in the lyrics) work - we understand them instinctively without recourse to too much distracting thought.

I think that it is laudable and right that bands attempt to expand our consciousness or take us on a trip – some of the best music in the world has been created for this reason - but on Trinity Way I find that the consciousness-expanding lyrics distract me from the thing that I find genuinely consciousness-expanding which is the music. As seen on Cat-Man-Do H.U.M. are capable of building a ritualistic improvisation that can take you on a journey. They are also capable of meandering a bit (A Maze In Grace). These are the pitfalls for any band that sets themselves these challenges, from The Grateful Dead onwards. When it works it’s brilliant, when it doesn’t it’s a bit dull.

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