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Music / His Name Is Alive

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Pictured: Current frontwoman Andrea Morici and guitarist Warren Defever. Not pictured: Everyone else.

His Name is Alive are a rather eccentric experimental rock project from Livonia, Michigan, currently based in Detroit. Founded in 1990 by guitarist, composer, and sole constant member Warren Defever, the band is fond of Genre Roulette, having recorded songs ranging from Dream Pop, alternative rock, funk, prog rock, and Baroque Pop to experimental noise and gothic ambient compositions. The band was originally signed to 4AD Records, under whom they released a string of critically acclaimed records throughout The '90s, but were dropped by the label in the early 2000's after failing to meet sales expectations. After this, the band went defunct until 2006, when Defever revived the project with a new lineup. Since then, the band has steadily released new records and shows no signs of slowing down.

Across multiple decades and lineups, His Name is Alive have released over 100 recordings, many of them extremely limited edition tapes or CD-Rs. All of their post-reformation music can be found on their Bandcamp page. Their 4AD material is available on most streaming services, as well as scattered across YouTube. Below is a list of their full length albums.


  • Livonia (1990)
  • Home is in Your Head (1991)
  • Mouth by Mouth (1993)
  • Stars on ESP (1996)
  • Ft. Lake (1998)
  • Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth (2001)
  • Last Night (2002)
  • Detrola (2006)
  • XMMER (2007)
  • The Eclipse (2010)
  • Silver Family (2012)
  • Silver Dragon (2012)
  • Tecuciztecatl (2014)
  • Patterns of Light (2016)
  • All the Mirrors in the House (2019)
  • Return to Never (sequel to All the Mirrors..., 2020)
  • Hope is a Candle (sequel to Return to Never, 2021)

Tropes displayed by His Name is Alive:

  • Album Intro Track: "Are You Coming Down This Weekend" for Home is In Your Head, "Deep" for Last Night, "Jixi" for The Eclipse.
  • Album Title Drop: Almost, but not quite. "Lip" features the line "We sing mouth to mouth".
  • Always Female: All of the band's half-dozen or so vocalists have been women. There's a single instance of male lead vocals, "Electrical Powers (Turn Me On)" from Ft. Lake, as well as faint male backing vocals in a few other tracks, but this is very rare.
  • Arc Words:
    • The phrase "Spirit needs a spirit tool" first showed up in "Drink, Dress and Ink" on Mouth by Mouth and later became the basis of a full song on Ft. Lake.
    • "This World is Not My Home" is pretty much on Arc Song for Stars on ESP, being played three different times on the album as well as once before the opening track. Home is Your Head has an Arc Sound Effect in the form of a ticking clock that shows up repeatedly throughout the album.
  • Author Appeal: Warren likes writing songs about dreams, lakes, ghosts, and lost innocence. Recently it seems he's become obsessed with the idea of mirrors, light, and reflection as well.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "My Feathers Needed Cleaning" features lyrics in what seems to be a Native American language.
  • Boléro Effect: The Epic Instrumental Opener for "The Examination" uses this, starting out with only synths and then adding a new instrument each measure until the full band is present.
  • Book Ends: Stars on ESP starts with a snippet of "Last One", which is the final song on the album.
    • The first and last songs on XMMER feature the exact same lyrics set to completely different arrangements.
  • Breather Episode: "Dragon Down", a gentle acoustic folk song on the hard rocking Patterns of Light.
  • Broken Record: Used frequently on their earlier, spookier material.
    • "As We Could Ever" opens with a loop of Karin Oliver saying what sounds like "How do you, how do you, how do you".
    • "Put Your Finger in Your Eye" has a sample of a child repeating the titular phrase.
  • Cain and Abel: The protagonist's twin children in Tecuciztecatl are already this in their womb.
  • Call-Back: "The Cup", the closing track on Tecuciztecatl, features the tolling bell and string melody from the end of "Hold on To Your Half".
  • Call-Forward: At the end of "As We Could Ever" on Livonia, the line "Cut, bleeding, and sad" from "How Ghosts Affect Relationships" can be heard whispered very quietly.
  • Concept Album:
    • Tecuciztecatl is a Rock Opera about a woman pregnant with twins, one good, one evil, who must enlist the assistance of a demon hunting librarian to save her soul.
    Bandcamp description: The rock opera is imagined vaguely in the shape of a 1969 Hammer horror film: bloody, British, gothic, sexy vampires, etc., and the songs are written from the perspective of five characters, the mother, the doctor, the twins and the librarian whose side hustle is demon hunting. The story begins with a young woman getting an ultrasound who discovers she's pregnant with twins. Realizing something is going terribly wrong, "I think I'm missing something on the inside," she visits a local library for research. The librarian instructs the woman on how to kill the demon baby without harming the other twin, and together they carry out the various rituals necessary. Eventually one baby is born.
    • Patterns of Light is a series of songs dedicated to the Large Hadron Collider.
    • Stars on ESP is a much looser example, but it seems to have a Central Theme of nostalgia, and is structured as a collection of singles from the ESP-Disk record label that the listener is hearing on the radio.
  • Cover Album: Sweet Earth Flower.
  • Cover Version: They've covered "Blue Moon" by Big Star and "Man on the Silver Mountain" by Rainbow, as well as a series of songs by Marion Brown for the album Sweet Earth Flower. "I Can See a Lot of Light in You" is a very loose cover of "The Dress Looks Nice on You" by Sufjan Stevens.
  • Creator Provincialism: They're heavily inspired by the atmosphere of rural Michigan, where Warren Defever has spent most of his life.
  • Creepy Circus Music: Several songs on Home Is In Your Head feature a warped carnival music sample.
  • Dark Reprise: "Young Blood" was a pretty dark song to begin with, but "Come to Me" sets its lyrics over a surreal and noisy soundscape consisting of marching drums and cacophonous horns.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Warren Defever often comes across as one in interviews.
  • Demonic Possession: "Caroline's Supposed Demon" seems to be about this.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Stars on ESP titles its songs as if the album is an archive of singles. Thus, each song is listed with its full title, and then a shortened form of its title (e.g. "Dub Love Letter/Letter"). This means that songs that already have short names simply have their title listed twice (e.g. "Movie/Movie").
  • Deranged Animation: The music videos for "Are We Still Married" and "Can't Go Wrong Without You" are both done with unnerving stop-motion animation by the Brothers Quay.
  • Destructive Romance: Multiple songs on Home is in Your Head seem to be about this.
  • Disco Dan: Warren Defever was apparently a musical version of this when he started the band. By his account, his father refused to listen to anything made after The '50s, and since they lived in an isolated area of Michigan he didn't have much exposure to anything else until he became a teenager. He genuinely thought he was being rebellious by listening to Elvis Presley and rockabilly. This could explain the Retraux nature of much of the band's work.
  • Double Entendre: The line "Miracle came and fell asleep" at the end of "In My Dream (Sometimes Screw)", which carries a fairly obvious sexual meaning.
  • Downer Ending: Tecuciztecatl ends with the implication that the evil twin was able to successfully subvert the librarian's ritual so that the good twin is killed in his place, all without any of the other characters knowing.
  • Dreadful Musician: Warren Defever was apparently one of these for the band's first few demos, but improved sufficiently for Ivo Watts-Russell to sign them to 4AD.
  • Drone of Dread:
    • The Dirt Eaters version of "Are We Still Married" has an undercurrent of droning guitar feedback in the background.
    • "Darker Than Blue" has a low droning tone constantly playing beneath the instruments, making what would ordinarily be a pretty guitar-and-strings ballad into a subtly twisted and depressing song.
  • Duality Motif: On Tecuciztecatl, representing the twin siblings who are the focus of the album.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Before taking over as lead vocalist on Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth, Lovetta Pippen first appeared as a guest vocalist on "Last One/Last One" on Stars on ESP.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Though it wouldn't be released until years later, Defever's earliest work under the name His Name is Alive was lo-fi instrumental field recordings he spliced together by himself in a basement, a far cry from the Genre-Busting female-fronted Revolving Door Band the project would become.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Both Karin Oliver, the band's first vocalist, and Andrea Morici, their current vocalist, look like this.
  • Either/Or Title: All of the songs on Stars on ESP (except "Universal Frequencies" for some reason) and Ft. Lake, as well as half the songs on Detrola.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Unusually for this band, "The Examination" has one that lasts about 4 minutes.
  • Epic Rocking: They've been known to do this from time to time. Their longest song is the uncut version of "Wish I Had a Wishing Ring", with a runtime of 17:17. Other songs include "Last Night" (8:11), "Someday My Prince Will Come" (11:12), "Train" (7:20), "Send Me a Dragonfly" (14:16), "The Examination" (9:08 for standard edition and 13:11 for CD, where it's merged with "Hold On To Your Half"), "The Eclipse" (11:00), and "Silver Arc Curving in the Magnetic Field" (8:11). In addition, Love Can't Buy Happiness contains a demo version of "Are We Still Married" that runs for a little over 10 minutes.
  • Erotic Dream: "In My Dream (Sometimes Screw)", through use of Double Entendre.
    "In my dream it's beautiful
    We go down at the same time
    It's so beautiful
    It's like a 6, it's like a 9"
  • Ethereal Choir: Often used, especially on their first two albums with 4AD.
  • Face on the Cover: Rather atypically, All the Mirrors in the House has a picture of Warren Defever as a teenager, presumably from around the same time that the album was recorded.
  • Fading into the Next Song: On their first four albums, most of the songs do this.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: One shows up at the end of "Hold On to Your Half". It's reprised at the beginning of the final track on the album.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Andrea Morici is also known as Andy FM.
  • Genre Roulette: This band never stays in one place for long. Their early albums rarely even kept a consistent sound between individual songs, with Mouth by Mouth in particular feeling somewhat like a mixtape. More recent albums tend to maintain cohesive sounds, but each album is still a New Sound Album.
  • Genre Throwback: Tecuciztecatl is one to the prog concept albums of The '70s, with a story recalling old Hammer Horror films, while Patterns of Light is one to hard rock and space rock bands from the same era. Stars on ESP is one to pop and rock bands from The '60s, in particular The Beach Boys.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: The band's name comes from some history class notes about Abraham Lincoln that Defever read in high school.
  • Gorn: The lyrics to "Ear" describe Vincent van Gogh cutting his own ear off with a weird amount of detail.
    "Started high at the back
    Hacking downwards fast
    Left the upper ear attached
    An ugly fleshy flap"
  • Grief Song: "Vanilia".
  • Growing Up Sucks: A recurring theme on Stars on E.S.P.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: One features in both of the videos made by the Brothers Quay for them.
  • Haunted House: "How Ghosts Affect Relationships" seems to be about one.
  • Horrible History Metal:
    • "Ear" is a weird, nonmetal example. The song's lyrics are a letter to a friend that just seems to be describing in detail the incident where Vincent van Gogh cut his ear off.
    • "Mama, Don't You Think I Know" is about the Manson Family.
  • I Am the Band: Warren Defever is the only consistent member of the band.
  • Instrumentals: They have quite a few, mainly as interlude tracks. Sweet Earth Flower and All the Mirrors in the House are both entirely instrumental.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: One of their early demos was called "I Had Sex With God." Defever also had a side project called Elvis Hitler back in the 90's.
  • Jump Scare:
    • "E Nicolle (Introduction)" is cut off suddenly by distorted, ghostly wailing noises.
    • On "There's Something Between Us And He's Changing My Words", the song starts as a calm acoustic number before it suddenly erupts into a barrage of screaming and noise. It subsequently returns to normal as though nothing had happened.
  • Lighter and Softer: Mouth by Mouth and Stars on ESP to their first two records. Livonia and Home is in Your Head were both very dark, often macabre sounding albums that both featured lots of noisy soundscapes and creepy atmospheres. Mouth by Mouth and Stars on ESP, on the other hand, are quirky, eclectic pop records that featured more accessible songwriting and overall had a brighter atmosphere.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "This World is Not My Home" repeats the same three lines of lyrics over and over.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: They've done this from time to time.
    • The original 4AD version of Mouth by Mouth ends with "The Dirt Eaters" (4:00 to 4:50 depending on the reissue), but reissues of the album add on "The Homesick Waltz" (4:01) after it, thus averting this.
    • Detrola closes with "I'll Send My Face to Your Funeral" (4:59).
    • "The Eclipse" (11:00) closes out The Eclipse.
    • "Silver Arc Curving in the Magnetic Field" (8:11) closes out Patterns of Light.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: Vocal cold open, anyway. "As We Could Ever" and "Patterns of Light" both begin with wordless vocal harmonies.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Practically a part of their Signature Style. The music often sounds beautiful while the lyrics are subtly twisted.
    • "Lip" is a joyous dream pop anthem, but the lyrics seem to describe an incredibly dysfunctional relationship involving rape and suicide.
    • "Young Blood" is a gentle, heavenly little song consisting of guitar and strings, with lyrics about civilians being massacred by an invading army. Its reprise at the end of the album provides music to match the lyrics, however.
    • "Mama, Don't You Think I Know (I Thought I Saw)" is a smooth, jazzy song about a person playing dead to hide from the Manson Family.
    • Tecuciztecatl as a whole has a very bright symphonic prog sound but tells a dark tale of witchcraft and vampirism.
  • Male Band, Female Singer: They've pretty much always had this setup.
  • Mind Screw: The story of Tecuciztecatl, as well as most of the songs on Livonia. "Ear" might also qualify for how inexplicable it is.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Not many of the band's songs surpass three minutes in length. Their shortest song is "Jixi", which is literally just a 17-second segment of the song "Bleeder Poem" cut out and used as the opening track. Their second shortest is "Are You Coming Down This Weekend", which is 18 seconds long and consists only of the title being sang repeatedly.
  • New Sound Album: Every single one of them, though Mouth by Mouth and Stars on ESP both sound quite similar to each other overall.
  • No Ending: "Ear" just sort of stops after the narrator describes Vincent van Gogh's mutilated ear, further adding to the Mind Screw of the song.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Evil Twin in Tecuciztecatl appears to be a vampire of some sort.
    "Gemini, when I look in your eye
    I can't see my reflection"
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: On the vanishingly rare occasion that they have male vocals, they're like this. "Electrical Powers (Turn Me On)" and "Hot Tonite" are notable examples (though the latter still has Karin Oliver doing the chorus).
  • Progressive Instrumentation: Used in the intro for "The Examination".
  • Questioning Title?: "Are We Still Married", "Are You Coming Down This Weekend", and "How Dark Is Your Dark Side" are all questions, albeit without the question mark.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "Are We Still Married" was changed into a keyboard driven gothic ballad for The Dirt Eaters EP, while "The Dirt Eaters" was given sparser, more ambient instrumentation with a spoken word sample added in.
    • "This World is Not My Home" is played first as a hard rock song, then a folk rock song, then a gospel song throughout Stars on ESP.
    • Also, due to the band's constantly shifting membership, this happens to a greater or lesser extent to almost every song they play live, as they need to adapt it to fit the current lineup.
    • Much of the ambient trilogy consists of cleaned up and edited recordings of tracks that appeared on early demos such as Love Can't Buy Happiness.
  • Recurring Riff: "Her Eyes were Huge Things" is reprised in "Her Eyes are Huge" on Home is in Your Head. A sample of a ticking clock serves a similar purpose throughout the record.
  • Retraux: Most of their albums in one way or another. Stars on ESP was deliberately made to sound like a 60's pop album, while Tecuciztecatl and Patterns of Light are made to resemble 70's prog rock concept albums.
  • Revolving Door Band: The band's had literally dozens of members over the years. Currently, the only stable members are Warren Defever and Andrea Morici.
  • Rock Opera: Tecuciztecatl.
  • Sampling:
    • Much of All the Mirrors in the House consists of heavily manipulated field recordings of things like waves on a lake or Warren's neighbors raking leaves.
    • Home is in Your Head makes extensive use of samples, mainly of things like ticking clocks and Creepy Circus Music, all of which contribute to the album's off-kilter, almost haunted feeling.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Many of Karin Oliver and Andrea Morici's vocals are overdubbed to give a choir effect.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Universal Frequencies" is sung over a sample of "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys.
    • "St. Michael" is an elegy to Michael Jackson, released the year after his death.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: All of the songs on Tecuciztecatl and most of the songs on Home is in Your Head.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: Of "Man on the Silver Mountain" by Rainbow, on The Dirt Eaters EP.
  • Something Blues: "Happy Blues" and "Last Blues (Last American Blues)", .
  • Song Style Shift: "Hope Called in Sick" goes from melancholic ambience to a hard rocking, almost metal sounding section in the course of about 90 seconds.
  • Start My Own: Drummer Trey Many would go on to start the ethereal rock band Velour 100, a great and overlooked band in their own right. Warren Defever helped produce some of their records and Karin Oliver sang vocals on their second one. Unfortunately the band didn't last very long, breaking up in 2000 after just five years together.
  • Stop and Go: "Sick" is a hard rock song that gets periodically interrupted by what sounds like electronic squeaking noises and a flute playing, before resuming as though nothing had happened.
  • Studio Chatter: The Hidden Track after "Dreams Are of the Body" starts with Karin Oliver saying "Move that in closer because I can't bend forward from the waist and sing".
  • Surreal Horror: Much of Livonia gives off this impression, particularly "E Nicolle", which starts with sound effects that wouldn't be totally out of place in a Silent Hill game, and "Caroline's Supposed Demon", a dreamy ballad about Demonic Possession with strange creaking noises in the background.
  • Surreal Music Video: The videos for "Are We Still Married?" and "Can't Go Wrong Without You", both animated by stop motion masters the Brothers Quay. Both videos also qualify as serious Surreal Horror.
  • Teen Genius: Warren was about 10 years old when he first started experimenting with tape music and a high schooler when he started the band in earnest. Most of the songs on Love Can't Buy Happiness, Early Works 1985-1989, and All the Mirrors in the House were actually made during this time period.
  • Textless Album Cover: Eclipse simply has a black inkstain on a white background, which somehow manages to capture the album's tone pretty accurately. All the Mirrors in the House has a picture of Warren Defever as a teenager.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Zigzagged, as while most His Name is Alive songs tend to be short and simple, many of them tend to have surprisingly intricate arrangements that can't really be replicated live. See, for example, the layers of vocal harmonies all over the otherwise skeletal and stripped down Livonia.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Last One/Last One", which reprises "This World Is Not My Home" with a full gospel choir.
  • Villain Song: "The Examination", "Vampire List", and "Yes Yes Yesterday" on Tecuciztecatl.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Ft. Lake has Karin Oliver and Lovetta Pippen alternating lead vocals on each song, with Karin singing all the odd-numbered tracks and Lovetta singing all the even-numbered ones.

"When this world is over and done
I'll sleep all day when I get home"