Published by Alessandro Violante on July 15, 2017
SaturmZlide is one of the most interesting artists of HANDS roster which have emerged in the last few years, hailing from Lüneburg, a city in the Northern Germany. He came recently back with a new album called Human Art Engines, the result of the work which lasted one year and a half. We’ve already appreciated his previous concept album LaZercowboys, already released three years ago. That album was interesting for its atmospheres, and his rhythmic noise mixed with electronica was capable of evokations through music. Here LaZercowboys, just like Ridley Scott’s film Alien explorers, wandered through the solar systems along fourteen strongly engaging songs.
With his new album, Alexander Marco, the mastermind behind the project, creates another interesting concept album, although detaching from his previous work with the same fearless spirit of a LaZercowboy who doesn’t like repeating the same work twice, and shows himself capable of transporting his energetic music in a live set, as testified by his recent live performance at FORMS OF HANDS 17, the German label yearly showcase, held in April.
These rather strong changes in the sound of the German musician can be essentially explained by his will to use for the first time only analog sounds, and the album main theme is focused on the medium and its language: the synthesizer, together with a strong passion for old school game consoles, for example Commodore 64. In the minimalistic cover artwork, a trademark of the Dortmund label, there’s written the list of synthesizers used during the making of the album. The result is a great variety of sounds and rhythms, and we have a much more varied work than in the past, when his classic rhythmic noise sound was more emphasized. Human Art Engines is a perfect hybrid, a pure electronic music album paying its homage to decades of experimentation, and particularly to the nineties.
The album is a tribute to the language of electronic music and its vocabulary made of beats, distortions, samples and so on, sometimes here recalling retrogaming as in the opener Invisible society, and in Arcade boulevard and AZsid tunnel. In fact, some weeks before the official release, Alexander Marco posted on his wall an image recalling the aforementioned Commodore 64. Human art engines represent the gear used by the figure of a musician-engineer, exploring the possibilities of sound. In a similar way to what has been made by The_empath on Trackology, SaturmZlide offers to the listener the result of an intelligent overcoming of the lesson of nineties English electronic music.
After a quite short introduction typical of his style, with the aforementioned Arcade boulevard, one of the peaks of the album is already reached. A slow tempo upon which noise injections are added, where there are two main elements: on the one hand, there are the cinematographic and dystopic melodic retro-sounding elements, while on the other hand there’s a long and unexpected pause recalling John Cage. AZside tunnel is almost big beat-sounding, strongly rich of groove and perfect for the dancefloor, while Distorted rainbow with crashed ice is one of the most interesting experiments, IDM-sounding in some way.
Progressively more properly rhythmic noise sounding rhythms emerge, as in the solid Cobras nas ruas and in Phantom foyer but, although it’s possible tracing a linkage between this ones and LaZercowboys’ songs, here we have less standardized motifs. If Education plays with a 4/4 almost techno-industrial rhythm, although always with its own sound, with Radio 2.0 Alexander Marco reaches the very peak of the album, reinterpreting a typical early rave English rhythm, while building upon it a very convincing track. The ending song Pilldriver is the fastest and the most hard-hitting number, always paying a tribute to the sound of the ninetines and to the world of vintage gaming.
Human Art Engines strikes above all for its courage, and for the variety of its songs. SaturmZlide changed its skin and has given us a very good album, focusing on the expressive possibilities of electronic music rather that on the narration of a story, as has already happened in the recent past. An commendable research which brought him to a more mature and personal result.
Rating: 8, 5