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Recoil - Subhuman

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 27 / 8 / 2007

Recoil - Subhuman
Label: Mute Records
Format: CD


Wonderful sixth album from Recoil, the project of ex-Depeche Mode keyboardist, which finds him working with Louisiana bluesman amd singer Carla Trevaskis who has worked with Portishead

Subhuman’ is Recoil's fifth studio album and arrives after a break of six years since their last recording. Recoil is the project of ex-Depeche Mode keyboardist Alan Wilder who on this is assisted by bluesman Joe Richardson and English singer Carla Trevaskis whom has worked with Portishead. ‘Subhuman’ is on Mute which is a sign of quality but I didn’t expect Recoil's music to be of this grand a scale or genre. It begins with the first single ‘Prey’, which opens sounding like an instrumental soundtrack styled piece of the eerie variety, before Joe’s gravely blues voice joins the track giving it some Louisiana soul. Carla’s backing vocal is somewhat gospel fuelled. As it progresses it sounds like the sort of thing, Jools Holland should get on ‘Later…’to give his show a bit more street cred. As it moves into its second half around the five minute mark ‘Prey’ gets more rock guitar-flavoured, with Joe bearing his Louisiana soul to the world for full inspection. It tales off around the eight minute mark to fade into ‘Allelujah’, which starts off very moody, so moody it could be the Cure at their most atmospheric. As it opens up to take in the lead vocal by Carla, she sounds somewhere between Maria McKee of Lone Justice, Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays and the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser. It is again very long and around about the nine minute mark. ‘5000 Years’ has a vocal, from Joe, a marching style pace and a rhythm and groove reminiscent of the Plastic Ono Band. At the end it has added to it samples from war films and westerns. It is all very strange but also thrilling. “The Killing Ground’ has a blues feel and recalls Chuck Prophet of Green on Red with its western hip feel. To this is added some gospel, war like drums and Doors’ style funky keyboards which give it a fresh approach. Its second half sounds like Massive Attack. ‘Intruders’ has Portishead-style vocals from Carla. It is has another eerie instrumental introduction and weird atmospherics. Joe adds backing vocals with give it more of an earthy feel. Reminiscent of PJ Harvey at her most brilliant, it is at over 11 minutes one of the longest tracks here. ‘99 to Life’ is more experimental with another blues vocal from Joe. As Joe’s vocal move on they develop an Iggy feel as do the guitars as they go into a strange funky rock overdrive. It ends with ‘Backslider’ which has a sorrowful vocal that Dylan would kill for from Joe, while the guitar on it gears up it develops a jolly gritty earthy feel. ‘Subhuman ‘is one of the best albums you will hear all this year.

Track Listing:-
1 Prey
2 Allelujah
3 5000 Years
4 The Killing Ground
5 Intruders
6 99 to Life
7 Backslider
8 Prey (Ambient Version)
9 Allelujah (Ambient Version)
10 5000 Years (Ambient Version)
11 The Killing Ground (Ambient Version)
12 Intruders (Ambient Version)
13 99 to Life (Ambient Version)
14 Backslider (Ambient Version)

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