Human Larvae – Behind Blinding Light LP Freak Animal 2016
Daniel Burfoot’s Human Larvae project has only issued 3 albums (including this) in 8 years since the debut was issued in 2008. Although each have been individually strong and focused noise industrial/ power electronics releases, a gradual step up in refinement has also been noted. Likewise while last album ‘Womb Worship’ (reviewed here) received high rotation, ‘Behind Blinding Light’ then contains a focused directness and immediacy beyond anything previously displayed by Human Larvae. Working with wide variety of sonic elements and stylistic approaches, this new album contains a degree or familiarity and which beg parallels comparisons with the likes of IRM, Prurient and Grunt*, but Daniel cleverly has twisted them to his own ends under the Human Larvae banner.
‘Paradigm Shift’ leads off in exceptional ‘controlled tension’ style, where its subdued windscreen drone and detailed junk metal sounds displays depth in the recording and production. ‘Severing Sirens’ is the second track of stilted quasi death-industrial pounding structures and cathartic vocals, which gradually builds to a crescendo of aggression and feedback squall. After reaching a particular peak the mood falls away to one of tense restraint, where he microtonal textures, shimmering static drones and distant choir like solo female vocals (perhaps a mythical ‘Siren’ of the track’s title?), while creaking sheet metal provides a sharper rusted industrial aesthetic. The cathartic lyrics of ‘Isolation of the Stain’ and their gruff roared delivery brings to mind the approach of Prurient, although the musical undercurrent is more restrained than typical Prurient, where it balances between static, drone and feedback.
On Side B, the first track is ‘Psychosis’, where the guest vocals of Levas (of the Lithuanian project Pogrom), provides a deeper and harder masculine edge to a undercurrent of widescreen drones, which then take second stage to a rough and chaotic layering of junk metal and sprayed distortion. At 10 minutes in length ‘Epiphany’ is an album highlight, where the elements of widescreen drone and clanging junk metal have been looped and structured into a focused rhythmic industrial/ power electronics track which perfectly balances structure and chaos (…where the elevating scraping feedback is used as an element to ratchet up the tension and augment the rough barked vocals of Daniel). In the final third of the track the mood shifts to a segment built around looped clean guitar lines, which itself leads directly in the short track ‘Exit Elend’ to concludes the album. This final piece, is then a back to basics display of a rough and shuddering industrial drone and course flange track vocals (repeating: “nothing changes” in a frantic yell).
Being the first Human Larvae album to be pressed on vinyl, this is an album which absolutely warrants such a pressing, where the collage artwork suits the sound and feel of the album. Without being in any way derivative, ‘Behind Blinding Light’ is a strong, focused and sonically diverse industrial/ power electronics release which demonstrates full control over its sonic elements, both in the recording and their construction. Recommended.
* – while I acknowledge that these artists were mentioned in the promo text, this is not merely me ‘retreading’ the promo material, rather highlights that I completed agree with the comparisons (…although I don’t so much agree with the promo text’s comparison to Control).