“Here Lies Man took the music world by storm in 2017 with their self-titled debut positing the intriguing hypothesis: What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?” This. This is what greeted me. I didn’t even bother reading the rest of the ten or so paragraph missive. “What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?” I was intrigued. I was hoping for some 1970s style afro-centric funk rock. I had all these ideas swirling around in my head. Then I popped in the disk (old school?). But from the first strains of music Here Lies Man’s “You Will Know Nothing” grabbed me by the way back machine and would not let go.
Full disclosure, I’m a child of the 70s, so any type of free flowing or experimental music was always part of the album collections at home. But this, “You Will Know Nothing” weaves the old with the new. Here Lies Man truly took Black Sabbath‘s tone and married it to an Afrobeat sound. It’s ruggedly heavy but has this light funk ambiance to it. It makes you, I do believe the word is, “juke”. It’s all bell bottoms, and sideways cocked hats, amber tinted shades, and way to high platform heels. “We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs,” explains founder and vocalist/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Marcos Garcia (who also plays guitar in Antibalas) of the band’s sound. “Tony Iommi’s (Black Sabbath) innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are taking that same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi it was the blues, for us it comes directly from Africa.”
To be fair, this music sounds nothing like the music coming from the continent of Africa but more like the heady, gritty New York City or Chicago or LA music of the 70s. The beats are akin to inner city urban black America than anything from Africa. That doesn’t diminish the sound, it totally adds to it. It gives it an accessibility that linking the music to a continent full of countries many may not have been to and only have a western tinged propaganda laden idea about. But say the Bronx, NY 1976 and everyone has a definitive picture in their mind. The cars. The clothes. The attitude. “You Will Know Nothing” embodies this and so much more.
“You Will Know Nothing” is one long head trip. There are so many layers to explore, it’s best to do it sat back on the sofa imbibing.