As Posthuman prepare to release their first album in eight years, Mutant City Acid, The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight takes a listen to a long player loaded with post-apocalyptic cultural references, and offers a first play of their track Shellworld Industries.
Fans of the old Commodore Amiga home computer may feel a breeze of nostalgia blowing across their minds when first taking in the front cover of Posthuman‘s new album (their first in eight years, no less); Mutant City Acid. The reason being that it offers an enthusiastic nod toward some of the games available at the time when the machine was so prevalent; Bullfrog‘s dystopian masterpiece, Syndicate, certainly springs to mind, as do the likes of Delphine Software‘s alien platformer Flashback and Revolution Software‘s Beneath a Steel Sky.
Indeed, Posthuman are clearly fans of such forms of entertainment; speaking of Syndicate in a recent conversation, Josh whistfully admitted “I could never beat the Atlantic Accelerator”, referring to the fiftieth level of the game. I was impressed. Ten year old me found it almost impossible to get any further than the first few levels. But anyway, I digress, because we’re here to talk music, not computer games.
It is difficult, however, not to excitedly pick out the cultural references upon which the new album is built. Especially for a geek like myself. Our exclusive premiere track, Shellworld Industries, is a reference to an Iain M. Banks’ novel, Matter, and opener Into Gestalt, more than alludes to the psychotherapeutic concepts of making sense of the chaos around us; an incredibly topical notion given the current global climate that is rapidly descending into bedlam.
You see, Mutant City Acid draws heavily on the post-apocalyptic tropes that can be seen throughout modern media. Going back to Into Gestalt, we have melancholic choral pads that seep into the mix as if emanating out of a dark underground tunnel, the sky above burning with an unnatural orange light. Very Bladerunner, in synaesthetic terms. The track maintains a panicked energy that reflects the title perfectly.
On to Nightride to New Reno (a reference to Bethesda‘s epic Fallout:New Vegas) and we are swept into the aforementioned tunnel as comms systems chatter just out of earshot, nuclear winds blowing the radiated flesh from your very bones. Once Was follows with an almost hopeful chord progression as a faint cyber-female vocal permeates through the tracks elements. The acid lines return along with an almost tribal drum pattern. We are reaching an underworld, of sorts.
Acid electro is the order of the day, as Gods of Technology funks it up. The track, as some may think, is not an homage to the electro duo of the same name (despite Josh‘s Altern-8 involvement; Mark Archer has also collaborated with Gods of Technology‘s Simon Brown), it is down to a sample that never made the final cut. Josh tells us “The original had a voice sample from a computer game, talking about ‘gods of technology’ making cables that were stronger than steel, from spider web”.
Junk Bonds slows matters down, introducing a slimy acid bassline and a thoroughly melancholic synth that oozes desperation, punctuated by static and dial-up blips, perhaps reflecting the shattered dreams of a foolhardy individual who invested in such high-yield debts, to which the title implies. Raid on Kyoto Quarter is equally bleak; as pulsating oscillations turn over, we are given a taste of a dismal future by a doom-laden robotic voice (that has a hint of Scottish about it). “This was the type of place you could get shot and nobody would notice you slumping to the ground beneath the pylons…” Tense stuff.
Our premiere track, Shellworld Industries, opens with a cavernous kick drum that complements the miasma-like swirls of the track’s other layers, lifting like sandy whisps from the mantle of one of Bank‘s pseudo-planets. The huge, bulging acid bassline weighs heavily too, furthering the catastrophic future toward which the album points. You can listen to the track at the bottom of this article, exclusively.
Abaskun Control (which we feel might just be a reference to Halo) feels like the most experimental track on the album. Skittering drums discombobulate and confuse, particularly in combination with the very human yelps and ‘bloops’ that the track contains. Transit System Error picks the pace back up again for the penultimate track, and features an acid line that seems to almost organically evolve and pour over itself. The track conjures imagery of a malfunctioning production line, which the title suggests may be the case.
The final track, Wish Mountain, is placed firmly in acid house territory. The final track features vocal snippets that, on first listen, shock the audience due to their abrasive nature and the volume at which they enter the mix. What? You didn’t expect Posthuman to let you get away without some sort of wonderful discomfort in the last track of their album, did you?
Overall, Mutant City Acid plays out like a deftly orchestrated sci-fi noir. A cohesive whole or even a self-consuming Ouroboros (back to Gestalt again, here, aren’t we?); we may have been waiting eight years for this, but goddam it was worth it. Listen to Shellworld Industries below, and we defy you not to lay there dreaming of a future in which cities lay ravaged and radscorpions roam the wastelands.
You can purchase Mutant City Acid on November 26th, and it is available here. Catch Josh at Hangar34 in Liverpool on November 16th, where we’ll be hosting him, along with Mark Forshaw and Jerome Hill for The Waveform Transmitter Presents: Acid Techno. Grab tickets for only £10 (+bf), here.