Ignition Records [Release date 21.02.20]
Humanist is an ambitious project orchestrated by guitarist and producer Rob Marshall, who has worked with the likes of Mark Lanegan (who guests on four songs on the album). He has assembled a starry cast including Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Mark Gardener (Ride), Carl Hancock Rux (David Holmes, Portishead), John Robb (The Membranes), Ron Sexsmith and Jim Jones (The Jim Jones Revue, Thee Hypnotics).
The album is based on the film The ‘Living Room’ – a documentary about the life and death of singer-songwriter Gavin Clarke. The album covers the themes of “life, birth, death, religion, mortality”, which led to Marshall inviting the various vocalists to become involved.
Marshall’s guitar is a key ingredient to the album, recalling such greats as Echo & the Bunnymen and the Stone Roses – there are some wonderfully gothic moments on here. The single ‘Shock Collar’ featuring Dave Gahan is an album highlight, along with the Stone Roses vibe on ‘In My Arms Again’.
Loving the performance of Carl Hancock Rux on ‘Ring Of Truth’. One of those songs that draws you in both with the singing and the music. Be it the gentle build to the chorus (and what a chorus!) or the chiming guitar chords, this is a masterful piece of music.
John Robb’s eerie vocals suit the epic ‘English Ghosts’ down to the ground. Like Depeche Mode but with more guitar and a trippy backing, wonderfully immersive on the headphones. To be fair the whole album is a highlight, be it the haunting, wistful vocals of Ilse Maria on ‘Truly Too Late’ or Mark Lanegan giving it some grit on ‘Beast Of The Nation’.
An intriguing and rewarding listen, hopefully Humanist will not just be a one-off and Rob Marshall has more musical treats in store for the future. Setting the musical standard high for 2020. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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