Posthuman: The Peoples Republic

Occupying a middle ground between electronic and post-rock genres, Posthuman's third album The Peoples Republic defies easy categorization but that's a major part of its charm. Helped out by guitarist Tom Brady and Maximo Park's Lukas Wooller on keyboards, Posthuman partners, Seed Record co-heads, and one-time Skam duo Rich Bevan and Josh Doherty spent three years making the hour-long disc and it shows.

But if the mood seems largely dour and melancholic, the duo has its reasons: soon after the release of their second album (2003's Lagrange Point), Seed experienced financial difficulties due to a poor business deal, and there was the dispiriting last-minute cancellation of a final tube station party and passing of two of its intended participants (John Peel and Coil's John Balance). So perhaps it's not too great a surprise that the album's style tends towards the haunted and atmospheric. One struggles to make out the text of Jane XI's spoken word piece that streams throughout “Endings,” for example, but even if one fails to do so, the song's ambiance alone conveys palpable dread and portent. Equally disturbed voices emerge throughout (“How Man is Made,” “Street Cleaners”), imbuing the album with a disoriented, almost psychedelic character, a hazy vibe bolstered by the primal trip-hop feel of songs like “And In the Morning” and “The Ray and Whistle.” Posthuman flirts most directly with electronica in the album's throbbing closer “Fall of Empire.” The Peoples Republic isn't entirely gloomy, though. While dark clouds and ghostly hums drape “I Remember When” in shadow, the mood abruptly brightens when ethereal voices and electric guitars float over the tune's driving pulse. An evocative and distinctive release, The Peoples Republic straddles genres in compelling manner.

May 2006