ith the release of The Uncertainity of the Monkey, Posthuman postulated that it was possible to carry a mood throughout an entire disc. This postulate, with the manic attention spans of most Warp acts and the overbearing abstractness of others, came as a welcome change in late 2001. Contrasted with the cuteness of Morr Music, Posthuman offered a far darker vision evoking shades of Meat Beat Manifesto without all of the trainspotting that goes along with listening to Dangers. The Uncertainity of the Monkey was a voyage into dark caves, meeting unknown danger at every corner. It was quite simply the best self consciously dark IDM album of 2001.
What made it this way, however? Posthuman allowed itself time to spread out sound, to let the songs casually unfold until they weren’t songs anymore. These ambient portions that let the listener have only the eerie synth sounds and their own imagination to keep them company, were the most powerful portions of the disc. A sense of frightening discomfort was not uncommon to me, when I listened to the disc in the dead of night in the car.
When hearing the first few seconds of the EP, then, you understand that something is different. Instead of a disembodied synth cry for help, we hear a beat. An almost simple beat that is soon augmented by chanting voices and an occasional bass hit. The bassline is reminiscent of something used in the previous LP, but there is no development of it, as in the The Uncertainty of the Monkey. These elements soon make way for the most astounding surprise of all- guitars. Sounding like a grinding Slayer riff, the guitars move along at a simple pace augmenting the songs already repetitious nature. The song contains all the elements of Posthuman at their danciest. Unfortunately, in its 5 minute length we lose both the introduction and the finale, which were key for emotion to be built up in the LP. The song finishes abruptly, leaving the listener wondering exactly what they just heard.
The second song, “It Started With A Kiss”, starts more promising with a simple melody allowing a beat to overtake it eventually. The ending is just as abrupt, but you get the feeling, put in the context of an album or a more cohesive EP that it could be led into the next song without any knowledge of the listener. Unfortunately, the next song that “It Started With A Kiss” leads into is the singularly oddest track on the album, “Billy Bob’s Moustache Day”. Following in the footsteps of Aphex Twin’s smarmy sense of humor, the climax of the song contains the refrain “I want to marry my sister” and the name “Billy Bob” time and pitch stretched to terrifying lengths.
After this we have the best song on the EP, once again because of the allowance for a long preamble, “The Absolute”. It’s a simple song with swirling synths enveloping the beat, disembodied voices adding to the oddness of the track, and what sounds like a sample from The Uncertainty of the Monkey.
The final song on the EP takes on a video game soundtrack, but adds the typical Posthuman touch to it. A simple 8 bit-esque melody calmly treads unaware in the background as voices scream and beats collide and fall apart around it. The abstraction going on around the simplicity of the melody acts as chilling juxtaposition where no one ends up winning.
Overall, the EP is a scattered affair, sounding much like a combination of material that was unfinished in time for The Uncertainity of the Monkey and material that was done in the time since its completion. The addition of guitar samples in two songs was, at first, distressing. Since the initial listens, however, they come to become a tasteful part of the mix, adding a dark undercurrent that was already present in other forms in Posthuman’s work. The EP seems to be an entirely unsuitable format for Posthuman to properly explore extended themes and ideas, which is what made their debut record such a success. On the other hand, it is simply a solid addition to their catalogue with experiments in new elements and song construction. And that’s the whole point of releasing these songs on an EP- they didn’t fit on the full length, necessarily, and Posthuman wanted to test the waters with some of their newest constructions. If you haven’t listened to their full length, The Uncertainty of the Monkey, you should start there first. If you have that already and are thirsting for more Posthuman, you can’t go wrong here.