I would have reviewed this one a lot sooner had the CD not been defective when it I received it. After numerous resurfacings (which kept me pushing it to the back burner) I finally was able to get it to play, although track #4 was still buggered. Anyway, No Longer Human is the dark electro project of Clint Robertson from Portland, Oregon. The project might have been named after Osamu Dazai’s 1948 novel by the same title (which was adapted to film in 2009, Japanese, of course), or maybe not. In any case, Antipathy’ mines the well-trodden wasteland of industrial dystopia sounding much like the other Blade Runners and Road Warriors who have traveled this route before.
All the typical elements are in place- heavily processed vocals; driving beat programming; the standard catalog of synth sounds; movie dialog samples, and bleak songs based on a central sequence riff. Reminds me of Velvet Acid Christ, Suicide Commando and Accessory (anybody remember them?) to some degree. I’m sure other comparisons could be made; just pick your favorite dark electro act. Although why Clint lists Tom Waits and Nancy Sinatra among his influences, I have no clue. I like Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, but I wouldn’t say they were influential as far as my own goth-industrial music was concerned.
For what it is, it’s not bad, just not particularly innovative. A couple tracks ("Let Me Go," "End Times") might even make good dark dance floor fodder. I will give No Longer Human this much- the pacing and atmospherics are varied throughout the album; it isn’t non-stop four-on-the-floor bombast.
Addressing the things I didn’t like about it, I have to say the overuse of dialogue samples is one of the key drawbacks here. I wonder if they were cleared... I’m guessing not because copyright clearance is expensive. The big corps rarely go after industrial acts anyway, preferring to target more lucrative rap/hip-hop acts. Using lots of dialogue samples just seems to be "so ten years ago" now, I don’t know why these bands continue to do so much of it. Being a musician myself, I used to sympathize with the MACOS (Musicians Against Copyright of Samples) crowd, but now I’m not so sure. Too many voices ranting in the music detract more than it adds. Just seems like unnecessary filler.
As for Clint’s vocals, well, what can I say? It’s the same electronically processed rasp you’ve heard a hundred times before. Once in a while you might be able to make out a word or a line-... "Let me go"... "One Night"... "Welcome to the... "... etc., etc., but you really need a lyric sheet to understand the words. Fortunately, they’re included in the CD insert, which is a plus. A lot of bands don’t even bother. For once, I’d like to hear a dark electro act ease up on the amount of electronic processing used on the vocals and let the voice come through. It might give the music some personality that could separate it from the pack. Sure, effects on vocals can create an aura of malevolence but used constantly, it just becomes tiresome.
I’m not saying NHL’s Antipathy’ is a poor effort; in fact, I kinda like it. Maybe something about the phrasing, the pacing, the simple sequences, the ambience or whatever sort of resonates with me. I just think it could have been better. Compared to a few other dark electro releases I’ve heard this year, it holds it’s own. In fact, if obscured vocals and a lot of spoken word samples don’t bother you, you might really enjoy this. It has a cool apocalyptic feel, and a big sound. Probably a good act to experience lives. Clint certainly looks the part with his modified rivethead mohawk. I just hope he might make a few changes on his next release to make No Longer Human really outstanding.