Human Feel - Gold

Label: Intakt Records, 2019

Personnel - Andrew D’Angelo: alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar; Jim Black: drums, synth.


Human Feel - the virtuosic quartet of saxophonists/clarinetists Andrew D’Angelo and Chris Speed, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and drummer Jim Black - released their sixth work, Gold, on the European Intakt Records, 12 years after Galore (Skirl Records). With all members contributing compositions, the philosophy of the group remains faithful to the grip and adventure that has been characterizing their versatile sonic palette.

D’Angelo’s “Alar Vome” kicks off in a velvety classical style designed by splendorous saxophone sounds, which draw an organically composed canvas that seems to describe idyllic, romantic suburbia. Clashing forces occur when distorted guitar strokes and spanking drumming push the tune to a more ebullient realm. These contrasting colors are refreshingly stimulating, in the same way that the dialogue established by saxophone and guitar is electrifying.

Imaginary Friend” was conceived by Speed with vigorous, eerie vibes and assertive instrumental attacks such as the machine gun-like bratatat of the guitar, intense saxophone interplay, and magnetic prog-rock-derived pulses. This is one of the many pieces influenced by the alternative rock genre, having the particularity of carrying shades of erudite dark metal. Other hard-hitting rock ambushes are made on D’Angelo’s danceable, post-punk-influenced “Eon Hit” and Black’s “Stina Blues”, which sounds more American garage than dirty grunge. Also, “GD” falls into a stationary darkwave with the reedists blowing ostinatos in counterpoint. This occurs during the tune’s last section, which comes in the sequence of a quieter passage patterned by marvelous sax melodies and lush guitar chords wrapped in relaxing synth effects. Later on, it’s Black’s infallible dynamics that come to prominence without ever sounding off the marks.

The quartet also scrutinizes soundscapes, projecting a comforting aura and fuzzy vibes on the amorphous “Ology”, another tune from the set of five penned by D’Angelo. Moreover, Rosenwinkel’s sedate “Bass Place” is layered with periodic ethereal cycles that come and go like the ebbs and flows of the sea. The guitarist comes to the front and center only for a brief moment here, just until D’Angelo starts to inflame the much darker final scenario with laborious bass clarinet contortions. If the structural stability is secured here, then “Lights Out”, a collective improvisation filled with fizz-toned dissonances and exquisite noises, is totally unbound.

With Human Feel’s most recent re-assemblage you have striking exchanges, sharp hooks, and consistent teamwork at your disposal. Enjoy!

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Imaginary Friend ► 03 - GD ► 05 - Bass Place