I just liked the whole weirdness, or perhaps I should call it creativity behind this album. Inhumankind is a duo from Barcelona, one a flutist, the other a double bass player. “Self-Extinction” takes us beyond the boundaries of experimentalism and into shadowy worlds, which can be associated with noise, as they infuse their evocative style of play with haunting surreal choral sounds and the outright bizarre.
By the nature of the core instruments and the style, there’s a jazzy feel. It’s highly irregular and transports us out of any known world. Indeed we’re momentary taken into a watery swampiness on “Annihilation of All Inferior Thought Forms”. The willowy flute inevitably has a melancholic dreaminess about it. The choir at the start of “Against All Odds” made me think of Star Trek, but this short piece has a disturbing air primarily by virtue of the irregular flute, and then the indistinct cacophony of the strings and the murmurings of a crowd. A great strength of this album is not just the dissonance but the layers of sound created by the flute in the foreground, the undercurrent of the double bass and the obscure fusion of noises which make their appearance and add to the black ambience. This nightmarish scenario is intriguing. In its way, it has the hallmarks of Stockhausen.
You’d think that a flute would evoke spring-like sounds but not here. The dark tones of the double bass suggest violence, and the mock classical choir chanting in Latin and brief growls of “Citizen Qayin” reinforce the sense of the sinister, disturbing and grotesque, which dominate this whole work. What’s interesting is that no piece lasts more than four minutes, and most are a lot less, but how long does it take to go insane? Normally you’d be looking for a new delight. Here it’s a new horror, with the choir suggesting urgency while the flute whistles on anarchically. There is much beneath the surface with whispering and seemingly illogical patterns, which just die a death as and when the duo feel like it before immersing us into more grotesquerie. Swampy electronic voices create a sci-fi feel, but then if this makes no sense, neither does anything else as the flute continues its irregular and dark course. From the avant-garde jazz of “Antinomic Self-Cosmogony”, we are taken to the funereal world of “Self-Extinction”. The growls are brief and sound like an alien being, contrasting with the disturbing and haunting chorus. Meanwhile the jazz-orientated duo carve their bleak and incomprehensible path in their artistic way. As if to reinforce the point, “Eternal Sleep” is creative mayhem. It stops, begging the question as to whether it will wake up. It does, but the wispy jazziness, which follows makes no more sense than anything before it has managed to do. And then it all stops, and we are none the wiser, but we have most certainly been exposed to a creative experimental musical experience.
Let me say this. “Self-Extinction” will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but then what is? To stick to the analogy, this is an obscure brew, which will challenge you like a Picasso painting or a Gaudi structure. This is an exercise in working with noise. There doesn’t seem to be any point in trying to make sense of it. It’s a very odd album indeed, which may well invoke nightmares, but I must say it stirred my juices. Welcome to the artistic world of Inhumankind.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)