'Human Growth Harmony - 'Subversive' (album)
We're determined somehow to get in 12 new albums before Christmas, before we take a few days break and return for the inevitable 'Favourite Albums of the Year' list, with our favourite of all being far from inevitable - mainly due to the absence of a Major Parkinson release in 2019. Firstly this week, we'll head to Denmark for a band who's roots are far from Nordic, but still qualify for inclusion because we're really not too bothered about enforcing any 'rules'. 'Human Growth Harmony' is the musical project of brothers David and Peter Slusarski, who come originally from Queens New York, but since their arrival in Copenhagen have performed with local musicians, and their free flowing album 'Subversive' is a mix of alternative rock, psychedelia, and with heavy hints of improvisational and even jazz and chamber music forms too.
'Subversive' was only released last week, although in the run up to the album they've released 2 singles, 'Violence' and 'Dreaming of Dragons'. But it was actually the thumping opening song 'System of Success' that captured my attention, with a dark undercurrent to it, but its the mix of instruments used to build the cacophony of noise that I like - including a clarinet and other assorted sounds. In 'Twilight Zone' you can definitely hear 'Talking Heads' influences, but this time its the violin which makes an impression, with an Ed Alleyne-Johnson New Model Army style contribution, which I think is pretty effective. Violin again introduces 'Dreaming of Dragons' with a pizzicato opening, with guest vocals from Tina Burova, and I like the attempts to take the music in a different direction, again with clarinet at the fore. The unusual instrumentation style in 'What Have We Done', with pleading lyrics setting out the failures of humanity in a modern world, and it's probably the highlight of the album for me, especially with the cleverly devised ending to the track. 'Violence' wraps up the album, and it's a heaver alternative rock leaning track, which maintains a gloomy intensity, and builds to a sprawling conclusion.
'Subversive' is an interesting album, which has a free flowing style, as if at times its based on long jammed sessions with the different musicians. It's not highly polished and overly produced, and as such it has a natural organic feel to both its writing and performance. Maybe it has occasional imperfections too, but it has some lovely moments in particular in tracks such as 'System of Success', 'What Have We Done' and the more brutal 'Violence'. I love being sent albums like this, rich in musical styles and textures, and we're delighted to introduce you to a project who don't really want to conform to any stereotypes, and just want to write and perform with and write music with whoever they want, and without any limitations from being too genre specific.