Album Reviews

A. Human – Third Hand Prophecy

(Wall Of Sound) UK release date: 2 June 2008


Fronted by a man named Dave Human, and featuring a group of musicians who also somewhat coincidentally have the surname Human, A. Human are here to freak you out with their take on electro-synth pop.

Chuck a dart at any ’80s synth act and you’ll find an influence that you could label A. Human with. There are hints of New Order, Pet Shop Boys and Erasure throughout the album, but with repeated listens it is clear that A. Human are initially taking a well trodden route and then wandering slightly off piste.

Most of this is down to the perfect blending of analogue instruments (or ‘real’ instruments as the purist will call them) with the synths and glitches. Primarily this result must be down to the fine production skills of Tim Holmes who has worked with the likes of Death In Vegas and Primal Scream.

However it is worth noting that the humans of A. Human simply know how to layer sounds to get the best from a song. Whether it’s the killer bass line of Black Moon or the unusual prog rock solo that winds up Come Death And Welcome, the band know how to paint a sonic picture.

This is particularly vital because lending his Numan-esque vocals to the equation is Dave Human. Not so much a vocalist as a robotic storyteller, his style is likely to split opinion. He is not an archetypal songwriter, instead most of these songs are like small vignettes inhabited by the peculiar residents of Mr.D Human’s imagination.

Occasionally these tales are a little clunky. The story of a chap called Tony who meets his end via strangulation courtesy of a pair of tights and a severely pissed off female protagonist is a little light and poorly told. The throbbing bassline almost makes up for it, but ultimately it comes off sounding like a bad Eastenders script when it should be reaching for the disturbing heights (or is that lows?) of Death In Vegas’ Aisha.

When he’s on form he can spin a great yarn. Bedsit on Fire makes insurance fraud sound eminently danceable, while the peculiar imagery of Golden Mile takes Chris Morris’ Jam on a trip to the sea side for a quick knees up a bucket of rancid cockles.

Post Post Modern Blues is a spot on critique of the anxiety of consumerism and the crazed desire of the general public to live celebrity lifestyle. Set to a nailed down dance beat and wonderfully slippery bass line that could reside happily in a smooth jazz album, it’s a definite highlight.

Ultimately this is a quality dance record: hell, they even make America‘s Horse With No Name a tune to cut shapes to. You’re not going to be frugging yourself to death as the whole affair dances to a decidedly mid-tempo beat, but if you’re asking for something to dance to, you could do a lot worse than Third Hand Prophecy.


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