The Blue Humans

Clear to Higher Time

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The Humans' debut is practically as New York artsy underground as it gets -- a band with Rudolph Grey, fellow guitar maniac Alan Licht, and Lydia Lunch collaborator/drummer Tom Surgal, produced by Thurston Moore, can't really be viewed otherwise. Higher Time is a short record, a little over half an hour long, but it doesn't waste a note when it comes to free noise mania. Grey and Licht each go merrily nuts on their axes, with Grey specifically playing left channel and Licht right, should a listener choose to listen to only one at a time. "Lightning" and "Finally" both act under the principle that starting at full levels and not holding back works best -- and work they do for some incredible feedback-laden craziness. Grey seems to be a touch more interested in hyper quick note runs, while Licht lets his squeals stretch out for a bit longer, if only for a bit. "Movement" starts off on a slightly moodier tangent, but achieves the level of craziness at a quieter volume, while "Under Power" is more substantial than anything, but still does a good job of cleaning out the ears. The final song, the title track, takes up a good twenty minutes and as such stretches out well to fill the time, beginning with low rumblings and drum rolls. After two minutes more distinct riffs and percussion hits the surface, though the pace is still quite slow, almost as if early Sabbath were tuning up while listening to contemporaneous Miles Davis. Everything picks up slowly but surely as the track progresses, achieving the same overall level of open-ended improv on the other tracks. In the final two minutes, the threesome come up with a series of blasting climaxes before coming to a sudden end -- not a bad way to bow out.

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