After a six-year hiatus, former Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder revived his Recoil project with the full-length Subhuman, a dreary album of dark soundscapes and a blues singer. Taking his "Electro Blues for Bukka White" track off 1992's Bloodline and blowing it up into a loose concept album, Wilder has hired Texas blues man Joe Richardson to contribute lyrics, guitar, and his swampy vocals to the album. The opening "Prey" is the grand meeting between Richardson's creeping blues and Recoil's creepy electronics, while the satisfying "5000 Years" finds Wilder acting as Richardson's producer until he dissolves the tune into noise and sound collage. The rest of their output sounds like a clever soundtrack searching for a moody movie, which is just to say it's both convincing and forgettable. The other track of note is the dreamy "Allelujah" which finds guest vocalist Carla Trevaskis speaking in ethereal tongues and sounding quite a bit like a Kate Bush sample. There's heaviness to the rest of the album that ponderously plods until numbness sets in, plus a collage in the booklet that perfectly illustrates Subhuman's big problem. In the collage, an antique picture of families frolicking at the beach is combined with an atom bomb exploding overhead, and then two showroom dummies are haphazardly planted in the foreground. Subhuman is equally hackneyed and entry-level postmodern, but like the collage, it's skillfully polished and best suited for lovers of dark, incongruous genre blending.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries