Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag Belgium - Full Moon 203 - 03/27/13

Human Flesh
The 35th Human Attempt
EE Tapes

We continue our campaign to promote EE Tapes' string of releases with historical and contemporary music centred round Alain Neffe. In addition to Human Flesh, Alain was or is involved in bands/projects like Pseudo Code, Subject, BeNe GeSSeRiT, Cortex, I Scream and more. For further information, check out our interview with the man some years ago. This time we're dealing with historical recordings altogether. The 35th Human Attempt was originally released as a 13 tracks LP by Alain himself on his Insane Music label in 1985. The new CD-version includes 11 bonus tracks in addition, from different hard-to-find vinyl compilations released between 1983 and 1991. 79 minutes all together.

The concept here is music of different kinds with spoken words on top. In the beginning it included Alain and the local musical friends and collaborators of his that he chose for each track. Later the concept was refined a bit. Alain then wrote all the lyrics, in French or English, often sent them to some of his contacts abroad who translated them to their native language, recorded the translated spoken lyrics, preferable (to Alain) by a female voice, sent the recording back to Alain who, on his own or with friends, recorded music inspired by the lyrics and the voices. The process could take a long time to finish. It is described more in-depth in the above mentioned interview.

According to the EE Tapes home page, The 35th Human Attempt soulwise is 'his most intimate musical project dealing with many demons and ghosts. It's all about "emotions", performed solo or assisted by a bunch of international artists...' The latter includes Xavier S (voice and some early lyrics) from, by the start of Human Flesh, the defunct Pseudo Code on some of the tracks. Alain's wife to be and collaborator in BeNe GeSSeRiT, Nadine Bal aka. Benedict G, contributes vocals on others. This may occasionally make it hard to discern Human Flesh from the two other Neffe bands, but only a little on a few tracks. The music ranges from the neat and pretty (for instance the slightly melancholic "Nymphomaniac Child" and the ditto organ parts of "Comme Sur Un Mouton", not counting the distorted vocals and other disturbances) to the noisy and highly experimental. Generally the album demonstrates the urge to try out anything within reach, for better or for worse. For instance, "Ytilaer" includes Xavier S's slowed down vocals, whereas it has been speeded up in "(Only A) Human Being". There are both forwards and backwards vocals, as well, and who knows, maybe some sideways in here, too. Or in "Alone (First Part)" with spoken German voice and American-English singing at the same time? Even better in the Second Part with Japanese and German voices simultaneously over white noise synthesizer and other more harmonic devices. And where else can you find rhythm box with echo as an effect? These are only a few examples. EE Tapes has labelled the music as minimal, ambient, modern classical, experimental and avant-garde. About right! Especially the floating tracks with keyboards and the occasional sax have aged with grace.

A few times you might discern elements typical of the time. The inevitable rhythm box is not present as often as one might expect. "Every Ill Man" includes both a Tuxedomoon-sounding bass and an American voice that resembles Laurie Anderson (aka. Mrs. Lou Reed for the last five years). The latter even more present in "... In Your Life Full Of Screams". Both the band and artist were immensely popular in arty-experimental circuits in the early 1980s. But on most of the album, bonus tracks included, the music challenge the limits of the artists' imagination instead of copying. I was involved in an experimental musical kindergarden for the advanced kind of project at the time the original LP was released. It served both as a revelation and inspiration; the message reading: anything goes! Only self-criticism serves as a limit for what one might want to release. Almost 30 years on The 35th Human Attempt still sounds fresh and might still serve as a revelation for uninitiated.

Copyright © 2013 JP e-mail address

© 2013 Luna Kafé