The Strokes, saviours of rock ‘n’ roll or affluent city kids at the right place at right time? Or perhaps a little from column A and B….. Like them or loathe them, they have stayed the course of their career, never flooding the market with an abundance of material and taking hiatus breaks just long enough to build up nostalgia and maintain headlining positions at international festivals.
My first thoughts on receiving this baby in my inbox was who are what is the Humanist? Digging into the press release I have a great surprise in that its Rob Marshall, a huge influence on the superb ‘Gargoyles’ LP from Mark Lanegan.
Mark Lanegan is one of the guest vocalists on this beauty as is Dave Gahan, as is RPM fave Jim Jones, as is Mark Gardner (Ride), David Holmes (Portishead) John Robb (The Membranes) and a whole host of others, this just raises the excitement level and you start to get a feel without hearing anything that it’s going to be dark, broody, edgy and industrial, fuzzed-out and in your face.
Reading the blurb and looking into the Marshal background we find that
“Rob formed his first real band in the year 2000: Lyca Sleep spun a dreamy, languorous psychedelica, and toured extensively with South, The Warlocks and Engineers. Later Lyca Sleep morphed into Exit Calm: “This band reclaim the guitar band as something to have faith in again,” wrote Mojo, They released two critically acclaimed albums, played festivals including Glastonbury, V and Leeds/Reading. Big tour supports with Echo and The Bunnymen, Doves and The Music followed. After extensive tours in Europe and Japan, they split in 2015, and Rob found himself without a band, a stranger in rough-around-the-edges, bohemian Hastings on England’s South Coast.”
But what does it actually sound like? After working through the industrial confusion, definitely designed that way of the intro we start to drop the tone the repetitive beats and electronic runs not unlike the last Lanegan LP, and as that unmistakable voice hits us, and as “Kingdom” kicks in your going into some dark places, the fuzzed-out industrial edge pushing it up another gear, before the plaintive harmonica draws you into a post-apocalyptic blues setting, this is seriously good stuff! We’re sticking with Lanegan for the next up “Beast of the nation” and in fairness, it floors you from the off, everything I love in industrial stylings, and it sits to me as one of the strongest things Lanegan has recorded.
Next up we hand over to Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), with “Shock Collar” a different distinctive vibe but absolutely vital you really can’t describe it as Industrial, perhaps post electronic? It definitely takes electronica into all sorts of new areas. My smile is just getting bigger and bigger. Another change of Collaborator and “Lie Down” takes things into a darker more laid back place, hinting to me at Martin Gresch but also drawing on the Depeche Mode pallet.
“Ring of Truth” slows things down, lowering the bass, the repetitive beats drawing you in before the softly spoken lyrics wash over you as the soundscapes build and build in the background, this is a great track!!!!
Back with Lanegan, upfront and to the fore this is the upbeat Lanegan sound that permeated the last LP and live performance, but “Skull” is anything but upbeat after such a strong start you wonder if things are going to drift but fair play John Robb “English Ghosts “ is potentially the best track on the LP, a dark industrial gothic masterpiece. How do you follow that? By changing sound and direction obviously!!! There’s’ a fuzzed-out 60”s psych feel to “In my arms again” before it shifts through the gears draggin the 60’s up to date. “ When the lights go out” featuring Mark Gardiner of Ride maintains the blissed-out “90’s sound of the ride era before “Truly to late” takes it in another direction with Ilse Marie providing a very different slant to what almost drifts into Cocteau twins territory. “How’re you holding up” maintains the 60’s vibe and then we’re into “Mortal eyes” again shifting and uncoiling in a multitude of electronic directions, weaving its way into the subconscious, again one of many standouts on this LP, ‘Shoot kill” again is a bit of a blinder, Jim Jones bringing the garage rock grunge to electronica, hinting at exterminator style Primal Scream with a punk rock attitude thrown in for good measure!!! And way too soon we’re into the Lanegan led closer “Gospel”
All in all, what a great LP to start the reviewing year, I’d potentially say it’s going to be there or there about’s for my LP of the year come year ends listings!!! Who said Rock and Roll is Dead, it’s getting more eclectic and interesting every year.
Buy ‘Humanist’ Here
Author: Nev Brooks
I’m reliably informed that The Venus Fly Trap which has had a new lease of life from the late ’80s were born from ATTRITION, ISAWS, RELIGIOUS OVERDOSE, WHERES LISSE? & TEMPEST. Hatched in the mid-’80s it wasn’t for a few years that this album was originally released mixing electronic with a dark Goth mood sort of Depeche Mode with guitars or the Sisters with that snappy Alesis drum machine snare sound. Songs like ‘(I Get) Flowers’ are total ’80s Goth and its a sound that hasn’t really dated that well. There are some decent melodies here like the aforementioned tune and I like the riff but was never a bit fan of that Soft Cell snare.
They try to create the mood with ‘Morphine’ but having that low-fi guitar fuzz that sounds like its barely in tune is a throwback to bands like Joy Division. I wouldn’t mind betting vocalist Alex was a fan of Ian Curtis and the way the band would construct their songs. The time really shows through on this reissue although I do like that bass line on ‘Ruby Red’ coming across as Dave Vanian fronting the Sisters its a good tune and the arrangement is great regardless of what decade it is.
Is that a Roland Jupiter I hear tweaking and whirling away on ‘Desolation Railway’ what a fantastic lyric and title. I guess what comes around goes around and it would seem about time fo ran 80’s synth / Goth crossover reunion where the Mode meets Eldrich meets pop meets the modern age kinda thing – how glorious would that be? With today’s technical advances in sound, this record would sound absolutely huge and songs like this would fill cathedrals.
‘Catalyst’ is like a dark Goth ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ from the mind of Nick Cave. It’s not that I dislike it at all because I don’t and there are some good songs on offer but the cliches of the time that haven’t stood the test of time and they weigh heavily. Maybe played loudly I’d like ‘How The Mighty’ because I love The Mission and like the Mish, ‘Violins & Violence’ is trying new things and that’s cool and we all like the Kennedy mystery and this is better than Saxons ‘Dallas 1 PM’ for covering that topic.
Maybe this would have been better left and be one of those albums you stumble across and hail as a long lost treasure or maybe I wide of the mark and it’s just me. Yeah, that’ll be it. It’s just me.
Author: Dom Daley
Already picking up admirers such as BBC Radio 6 and BBC introducing I Am Lono sound like the real deal with a cold as steel exterior yet it just covers a boiling hot center borrowing from masters of the dark post-punk synth rockers like The Cure and The Mission there is also a healthy amount of pop via the likes of Japan and Bauhaus.
You have the heaving thump of the bass guitar on the sparse ‘Lovers’ with its mechanical drum thud and bass throb it has the echoey vocals and synth layering the song until after the chorus when it soars as the guitar takes over. Huge sounding record and to be fair a really impressive track too.
Let’s not jump the gun here and rewind to the opener ‘America’. There is a real familiarity to this one – sounds like a dark Visage (if I might be so bold). I love the bands I’ve mentioned in my introduction and there are shades of all of them in this for sure and ‘America’ reminds me of the post 90’s period Bowie. Call it art rock or post-punk synth pop I couldn’t care less its captured superbly and the moody ‘Abigail’ sounds huge and should rightfully turn heads as people will sit up and take notice. The production and songwriting is excellent with the songs being really well arranged and none of them outstay their welcome with just the right amount of Guitars and Synth and great vocals throughout. In fact, Mr. Hussey could do a lot worse than check these out and maybe take them on tour with him, his audience would love this.
Available on 10″ vinyl maybe its time to embrace your dark side and get a headful of I Am Lono you might be very pleasantly surprised.