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(44:05, ‘Human Groove Hormone’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Icarus' Wacky Landscape 6:48 2. Ayn Rant 3:48 3. The Yeoman 6:34 4. Smoker's Corner 7:18 5. Groove of Love 4:09 6. The Jam 5:32 7. Everything Has Style 3:49 8. Festa Do Sexo 6:04 LINEUP: Aaron Schumacher – lead vocals; trumpet, flute Jake Haygood – keyboards; vocals Charlie Lotspeich – bass; vocals Zack Haygood – drums Matt Brooks – guitar
Prolusion. The press kit of this outing goes no further than noting that “Self-[En]-titled” is the debut release by the US group HUMAN GROOVE HORMONE, issued in the fall of 2011.
Analysis. That being said, the last two of the terms that form the band’s name are fairly well reflected on the album – in its music and lyrics respectively, the latter at times scabrous. Of the eight tracks here (all of which contain vocals), disc opener Icarus' Wacky Landscape, although by far not the worst, is the grooviest one, triple-thematic within its first two thirds. Then it reveals a few different instrumental sketches, but the pace didn’t change, remaining the same throughout. Musically, the piece appears as a song stab at ‘70s-styled funk, albeit one of its sections does rock, with metal guitar in a dominant role (the matter typical of almost all of the other items of the album). The trombone and electric piano are most often used, required as they are to carry the top in the absence of another lead instrument, as – unlike most of the consequent tracks – the guitarist never shines as a soloist here, albeit he is better when riffing, the music then referring to progressive Hard Rock. Either way, as hinted above, the tune frequently repeats themes over and over without any notable alterations to their sound, and this, along with the apparent lack of pace changes, leaves me pretty indifferent. The next track, Ayn Rant, is structurally very similar to the first one. Besides, within its vocal sections, it follows the same approach as its predecessor does. Otherwise, however, it at times shifts both in pace and direction, some of its instrumental moves delivered in traditions of classic Jazz-Fusion. As the recording progresses, the band at times begins to reach out to more interesting landscapes, now bringing together the said style with symphonic Art-Rock, such as on Everything Has Style, now playing Sympho Prog of almost the first water, which we get on The Yeoman and The Jam. In all cases, the arrangements range from simple to rather complex with a lot of refined interplay between all of the musicians (by the way, the drummer often appears as the most resourceful of them), the frequent use of analog keyboards imparting a certain vintage quality to each of the pieces. However, it’s the last named one that is the most impressive of them and is generally the best track here, to my mind. Almost purely instrumental, it only features some jazz vocalizations, delivered skillfully and tastefully at once, additionally standing out for some refined flute patterns. Although largely instrumental, Groove of Love develops for the most part in a balladic manner, only one time transforming into a fast-paced romp – traditionally in the progressive hard rock style. At times echoing classic Queen, at times reminiscent of early-‘70s Pink Floyd, the album’s closing number, Festa Do Sexo, is as heavily repetitive as the opening one, within its first two thirds too, besides which it finishes as hip-hop, i.e. as rap with a simplistic instrumental accompaniment, which is in turn what Smoker's Corner (the longest track here – what crap!) almost entirely about.
Conclusion. While I can appreciate quite a few of the tracks presented (shutting my eyes to their lyrical content), the album doesn’t remain compelling for the length of time it takes to listen to, no matter that it only lasts for 44 minutes. As the band tries several styles, some of them totally incompatible, it is in many ways a victim of the notorious debut syndrome.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: September 3, 2012
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