In Memoriam: The Unflushable HUMANFLY
It’s a beautiful Spring day and you are out in the city, walking with a friend. Your friend sees a familiar face, and introduces you to this man. You are captivated by him. You… love him. After some nervous chit-chat, you agree to get coffee on Tuesday, and when you do, he charms you. You get drinks the next night, and he gets more fascinating with every joke and anecdote. There’s just so much to him. He has so much experience and pulls from so many spheres of knowledge that you have difficulty keeping up with the conversation, but his words are just so goddamn beautiful it’s ok if you don’t know what all of it means. It all seems too good to be true, so to be safe you do a bit of internet searching about the man’s past. He checks out; it turns out this man has done everything he claims and seems to be quite the respected figure in his British hometown. He’s also been dead for 6 months.
Spooky Halloween story? Not at all. This, my friends, is what I experienced when I discovered Humanfly, British post-metal’s most precious gift to the universe. Several months ago my good chums in Earthrise told me about Humanfly’s most recent record Awesome Science, not knowing they had ceased to perform and write as a band. I listened to this album obsessively for weeks, unable to listen to other music for more than 30 seconds before deciding it wasn’t worth it to not be listening to Awesome Science again. When I finally felt emotionally stable enough to find more of their music and learn about them as a band, I was devastated to learn they had broken up the previous year. Humanfly was deader than disco.
HUMANFLY: PHASE 1
Humanfly‘s early releases were rooted in hardcore, cherrypicking dissonant elements from the family tree of Rorschach and Botch to garnish onto a base dish of meaty riffs played at highway speeds.
HUMANFLY: PHASE 2
They soon moved on from musical drag racing to writing “impossibly long songs” that patiently twist and turn through a forsaken countryside of Lovecraftian horrors. The records II and Darker Later* are A++ post metal with a distinctive dark and dirty vibe. Even the quiet portions maintain a layer of blue collar grease on them, never going full “post-rock pretty” with delay-drenched major 7ths.
HUMANFLY: PHASE 3
Finally we arrive at Humanfly’s swansong, Awesome Science. This is the handsome and mysterious stranger you met in my introductory paragraph.The entire record is a masterwork. Rich tones and commitment to long-form songcraft simultaneously challenge and comfort the listener. The album-opening strains of Golden Arrows feel like you are opening your eyes for the first time in decades, groggy but resolute, cradled in the arms of the universe.
This is the sound of a soul.
When listening through Humanfly’s discography, it’s surprising to think that it’s the same human singing throughout every record. The wails and screeches of the early releases are vicious and vulnerable. In marvelous contrast, the singing found on Awesome Science is delicate, masculine, and graceful, simultaneously full of heart and the empty vastness of space. These tracks are on the long side, but 5-15 minute run times are utterly necessary space to encapsulate everything this band seeks to accomplish. This is a landscape, and the peaks are tall; the valleys, deep; the plains, wide; the wildlife, alien.
This Halloween, take a break from worshipping your Dark Lord to remember what truly matters, for on that most unhallowed day in 2013 Humanfly played their final show. If you let their memory die, there is innocent blood on your hands. Eat candy, drink beer. This do, in remembrance of Humanfly.
UNFLUSHABLE \\\ R.I.P.
*Using your album title to reference Nick Drake is such a gangster fucking move. Respect.