Foundry, Sheffield, 22/10/2021
published: 1 /
Dave Goodwin finds that the debut album by storied producer former Exit Calm leader Rob Marshall is realised live on stage with superb effect.
For those of you not in the know, Humanist is a huge undertaking for a sonic singleton all dreamt up and orchestrated by multi-instrumentalist / songwriter Rob Marshall. The North Eastern producer formed his first real band Lyca Sleep at the turn of the Millennium. If you recognise the name you will know that his take on unhurried psychedelia ended up with him touring extensively with luminaries including The Warlocks, South and Engineers.
Morphing into new band Exit Calm, the outfit released two critically acclaimed albums and played festivals including Glastonbury, V and Reading and Leeds. After logging tour supports with Echo and The Bunnymen and Doves in Europe and Japan, the band unfortunately in 2015. Rob, who taught himself how to play as a young kid by practicing endlessly to Hendrix, T-Rex, Stones and Beach Boys records, found himself on the south coast of England without a band.
Humanist is not only Marshall’s first solo project, it’s also the first music he’d ever fully produced in which he also played and recorded nearly all of the instrumentation. The project’s eponymous debut album, which is out now and was reviewed in this very magazine, includes a lot of the musical talents of people whom he admires. Exploring the big themes it tackles birth, life, death, religion, mortality, and the concepts of creation versus evolution, heaven opposed to hell, the grave and eternal life and how we all as a species react to those concepts.
Boasting a highly impressive roll call of guest vocalists, the album’s lead singer ‘Shock Collar’ features Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, while Mark Gardner of Ride and cult singer songwriter Ron Sexsmith also appears. As co-writer of Mark Lanegan’s 2017 LP ‘Gargoyle’ meanwhile, the former Screaming Trees / Queens of the Stone Age singer repaid Marshall the favour by appearing on the disc.
This, however, is the touring beast of that realisation. Originally set for late February last year and cancelled due to the pandemic, this is the live set of an album that has not left my playlist since I first heard it. The frontmen are not present obviously, but what is there is a snarling, in your face entity they call James Anthony Mudriczki, former lead singer of the almost-huge Puressence.
With the help of Delphinius Vargas on bass and Scott Pemberton on drums this is loud and infectious and not only makes you stand and listen but overcomes you while it’s at it. The waspish droning of Rob’s guitar and the incessant beat of Scott’s drums is a sight and sound to take back with you and remember for a long, long time.
Jimmy’s vocals are something else too, what it might lack in not having the original singers, it gains with his thunderous, anthemic approach. This is the sound of an arena inside a garden shed. Not that The Foundry in Sheffield’s Students Union is of a similar size, it’s actually quite new and techie, but it isn’t the biggest place to house such a gargantuan sound either. It does have however the worst lighting I have experienced for a long time. It was so dark with no light at front of stage to actually see the lead singer. I get the whole dark, mystic thing but hey, only once in a while? Anyway, rant over. The band’s website compares the group to post-punk titans Joy Division and Killing Joke and Martin Hannett’s Factory days which is not far off. This however is unique and that’s why I love this madness they call Humanist. Flipping marvellous!
JSH Records (2)
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