It’s cold and snaps back— Something hot fires out the other end. “It” is Alan Wilder’s (Recoil) production snapping back in time to grab the blues. That “something hot” is subHuman: Taking the proverbial square piece and making it fit in to the circle hole with utter ease.
It’s almost jarring when Joe Richardson chimes in at 1:04 into opening track “Prey”. Richardson cracks the line “Deep down in Louisiana...” amongst cold ambient street noise and electronic string swells, which seems to be the antithesis of his growling, dirty, Southern blues. At this point, you either commend Wilder for his ambition to meld genres or you so absolutely despise it due to your distaste for the blues that you start skipping tracks hoping that the first was just a failed experiment that Wilder needed to get off his chest. It wasn’t. The album is chock full of this union.
The production is extremely dark, cold and vintage Recoil. As deliberate as this may be, the vocals and even the bluesy instrumentation that surfaces gives this a humanity and warmth very few electronic albums can claim. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume this is a new Massive Attack album. Every facet of their style is in place. Multiple vocalists, both male and female (Richardson and Carla Trevaskis, who channels Elizabeth Fraser agreeably), dark instrumentation, builds and breaks, and flawlessly meshing of genres are all lounging on the same psychiatrist couch. If you salivate at the thought of Massive Attack’s most recent single, “Live with Me”, and an album full of edgier takes on this formula, my friends, behold your holy grail.
These songs should not be singled out. subHuman is so brilliantly conceived and executed as an LP that I say pick a mood and cool night, invest in some noise-canceling headphones, hit the street and let this guide you. Something hot will create a whole new world of your surroundings while having you feel the shame that some music just isn’t heard by the masses but provides exclusiveness to your own experiences.
by: Greg Blosser
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