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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Human League - "Reproduction" Vinyl, LP, UK, 1979 (Virgin)

If J.G. Ballard had a soundtrack to his novels, it would more likely be the early edition of The Human League.   If Kraftwerk represented a "Germany" that is both realistic and what we think as German, then surely the League is British in that same fashion.  Very electronic and minimal with respect to their arrangements, it is basically synths, and Philip Oakey's always distant, yet heartfelt singing.  It's music that is very much part of the Industrial English cities landscape, but with insight into the future or a sense of dread that things are not that hot.  It does have a relationship with glam rock, but almost a scholarly view of that music from the recent past.   Its roots are Gary Glitter, but as listened to by someone in the future who is looking back to a much more cynical point than their present time.  Which is shit.  But when you have nothing, great things can happen upon you.

"Circus of Death" makes reference to "Hawaii 5-0" and its exotic culture via an American TV show is redefined by Oakey and company.   There is no fear of technology of what the future will bring, because The Human League looks back at old culture junk, and somehow make it all new again.  This is the sound of four guys in a group, or collective, that are commenting and reshaping their world.  Listening to their music you can feel the English damp weather, and their electro-glam sound is hypnotic with catchy beats and sublime melodies.  "Empire State Human" is a masterpiece.  And their version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" feels just right in their hands.  Ian Marsh, Martyn Ware (future Heaven 17), Philip Adrian Wright (responsible for their slides & film, and yet, a full-time member of The Human League) and of course, Oakey served a bleak, cold world, but I could live there.