Review Summary: Another post-rock group with no originality
Human Bell is a side project consisting of David Heumann and Nathan Bell. Heumann is a longtime member of the folk-based trio Arbouretum, while Bell spent most of the 90's playing in Lungfish, a drone styled post-punk group. I find this odd because both Bell and Heumann played in bands with little to no post-rock influences; I say this because Human Bell
is the duo’s debut album and it features nothing but instrumental post-rock.
was released on Thrill Jockey Records, home to many popular post-rock groups such as Tortoise, the Sea & Cake, and A Minor Forest. While these groups are generally regarded as “1st wave post-rock” Human Bell share little similarities with any of them. Instead of getting unique material like many Thrill Jockey bands have created Human Bell
is your typical by the books post-rock record. Every song on the album follows the same exact formula; starting off quietly and calm and then slowly building into riff driven climaxes. The cold, clammy production provides a somber and cold mood throughout the entirety of the album. Guitars slowly twang and glimmer while sparse drums kick in towards the end of every track creating the same cliched atmosphere that countless bands have also created.
While Human Bell
is extremely formulaic and unoriginal the music is pleasant enough. The guitar playing is very mellow and lush, but it’s the same exact style of playing for 45 minutes. Human Bell attempt to experiment throwing in a three minute track, “Vale of Hair” that consists of random banjo strumming and goofy xylophone sounds. “The Singing Trees” is the only track on here that boasts some original material as it fuses together swirling guitar reverb with a pounding, precise rhythm section. Other then these two songs it’s challenging to differentiate each song from one another because all of them contain aimless guitar noodling that eventually lead into heavy rock out sessions.
I’m sure that many post-rock buffs will really love Human Bell
but I just can’t hear anything original or breathtaking about it. Although the guitar sounds are very pretty and sublime it’s tough to listen to an album where the songs follow the same exact boring formula. Human Bell
isn’t a complete waste yet it’s basically 45 minutes of strange guitar noodling.