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