Ming & FS

The Human Condition

by Christine Hsieh

3 September 2001

 

Truly an album for those who appreciate eclectic sound-mashing, Ming & FS’s The Human Condition is an enjoyable romp through junkyard territory. And in Ming & FS terms, “junkyard” refers to an unexpected fusion of drum ‘n’ bass, trip hop, hip-hop, and breakbeat, not cast-off artifacts of urban living. Their latest long-player continues where their 1999 debut, Hell’s Kitchen, left off, updating their hip-hop-meets-jungle sound with a smattering of two-step and glitchy noise. The boys are at it again, and they’ve created an entertaining, party-rocking interpretation of the latest in cutting edge dance music.

From the start, it’s clear that this is not one of those dance-by-numbers albums. The opening Hebrew intonations (“Shalom”, spoken by Hell’s Kitchen guest artist Omri) quickly give way to clattering breaks, mechanized didgeridoos, sub-bass rumbling, and plenty of battle-worthy scratching. Dubbed “Intro to Life”, this track is a hearty, solid introduction to the duo’s cut-and-paste aesthetic. There’s no stopping these guys as they move easily from the stripped-down breaks of “Freak” to scratchy loungecore on “The Human Condition”, catching the listener’s attention and piquing interest about what will happen next.

cover art

Ming & Fs

The Human Condition

(Om)
US: 4 Sep 2001

At times, however, sonic mismatches make for some rather miserable cuts. For example, “High Pursuit” suffers almost unbearably from a notable lack of direction. A distorted voice laments pitifully over a sparse, glitchy background of pops and clicks, lending a weirdly lopsided feel to the track. “Proof Positive” is also a bit confusing, utilizing a catchy, funk-driven bassline but never really finding any footing for the duration of the song.

Thankfully, these flaws are few and far between, with a bevy of strong tracks to compensate for the weak points. The stuttered, punch-drunk beats of “Momer” work splendidly with a rollicking bass guitar and heady synth slices, and a hollow woodblock rounds out the proceedings quite nicely. “Head Case” is an appealingly dark, searing jungle exercise, throwing out double-time rhythms and electronic squelches before calming down slightly with a warm, rolling bass guitar line. Fans of house and two-step will respond to the warm tones of “Uncle Bubble”, a pleasant number replete with bongos, nicely funky piano licks, and catchy, mildly fractured beats. Finally, “Some Die”, featuring Naked Music vocalist Ada Dyer, is a marvelously varied number which starts as an electro-tinged gospel track before descending into fast-paced jump-up which juxtaposes full-throttle manicness with uplifting vocals.

Ming & FS clearly have something going with this album. Somehow, they’ve managed to strike a harmonious balance between several disparate musical elements, combining them into an arresting pastiche of sound. Genre-hopping in the most complimentary sense of the term, The Human Condition will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows and get bodies out on the dancefloor.

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