Music

Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, Swans Alums Are Human Impact and They're Mad As Hell

Photo: Jammi York / Courtesy of Rarely Unable

Imagine an orgy scored by rusty industrial equipment blasting New York City noise-rock, something like Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, or Swans in their wicked primes. That's the noise-rock supergroup, Human Impact.

Human Impact
Human Impact

Ipecac Recordings

13 March 2020

Imagine an orgy scored by rusty industrial equipment blasting New York City noise-rock, something like Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, or Swans in their wicked primes. It would be a gritty, menacing spectacle -- sweaty, filthy, angry sex -- and set in some cold-water flat on the Lower East Side or along the Gowanus in a pre-Giuliani urban landscape. Unidentified limbs would flail with abandon. Each thrust would be punctuated with the creeping slither of a leathery bass, the firecracker-lit pop-pop-pop of Puleo percussion.

Well, the sound you have in your head is an eerily spot-on descriptor of Human Impact, the noise-rock super-group culled from members of those aforementioned bands. The group's self-titled debut, out in March via Mike Patton's Ipecac, is a kind of reprisal and reflection of each member's roots and resume. While the record's ten songs often border on the invigorating, will these bands' considerable fan-bases decide the LP lives up to the Rushmore of past work? It's a tough row to hoe. That said, the new LP is a welcome addition to the canon – and a bitter and powerful counterbalance to the doe-eyed dream-pop that seems to be saturating some American indie scenes these days.

Chris Spencer (he of Unsane infamy) is a hell of a frontman and lets loose venomous bursts on his six-string and snarl-toothed spit-takes. The thing that sticks in the cement, though, is the quartet's incredible rhythm section, which pounds with nearly mechanical precision and strength. Drummer Phil Puleo has all the kickback of a shotgun blast in his inventive, sometimes off-kilter rhythmic patterns and he is admirably joined in battle by Christopher Pravdica, whose bass offers the kind of urban grime at which Bob Weston only hints in his dirgier moments in Shellac.

Their little dances are often the things that keep verses sounding unplanned and fresh and stop songs like "Respirator" from being slightly monochromatic 4/4 death marches – not that there's anything wrong with that. Though he has his moments – the sparkled sound-forms that open "Cause" definitely hints at a violent sense of doom – Jim Coleman, on electronics, is occasionally underutilized.

There are sounds here that remind why fitting to the themes of the record, it's a good idea not to opt for asphyxiation when faced with the corrupt knots of the human condition. "Consequences" features a pristine punk bottom-end and back-bone, as well as scorching barrages of distorted guitar. The noises Spencer makes with his guitar during verses, a kind of electrified and frazzled birdsong, are spot-on bits of rage for the post-impeachment moment. For the record, the lyrics are bleak but don't take allegiances along any party lines. "Respirator" makes incredible use of a haunting piano melody. "E605", one of the singles, is not the record's finest moment on its first half, that mantle instead going to opener "November", which would cause the jaw of Release-era Tod A. to fall to the floor. This thing opens with a statement of intent; there's no doubt about that.

Then, there's the enrapturing material, and for that, you don't have to look much further than "Relax". Contrary to its name, the song opens with Karam-like menace and sneering before launching into a punchy post-hardcore jilt. It's one of the few times on the LP that Spencer sounds genuinely unhinged, his screams meshing well with the jittery guitar harmonics. Closer "This Dead Sea" is just what the doctor ordered, another bottom-heavy funeral dirge full of venom. In the song's last minute, there's a descent into madness as Spencer roars, a real Heart of Darkness reckoning, that is perhaps the finest moment on the album.

Savin' the good stuff 'til the end? Not quite. This thing's good all along. And, well, well, well, it turns out these guys know how to close the deal the same way they opened it – with beautiful invectives of noise.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Music

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.

Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.