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Human Impact - s/t (Ipecac)

20 April 2020

When guitarist/vocalist Chris Spencer left Unsane to make new music, fans all wondered what could possibly worth separating from one of the greatest and most distinctive outfits of the noisy NYC scum rock mafia. Human Impact is it. A supergroup of sorts (if the conglomeration of various members of that scene can be called “super”), the quartet consists of Spencer, bassist Chris Pravdica (Swans), drummer Phil Puleo (also Swans, as well as Cop Shoot Cop) and electronicist Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop). Anyone familiar with those names knows what to expect here: steeljacketed, heavy-bottomed rock performed with drillbit precision and gritted teeth. On groovy blasters like “November,” “Consequences” and “Portrait,” Puleo and Pravdica lay down ribcage-rattling rhythms as foundation for Spencer’s abrasive riffs and granulated shout, the latter minus the mechanical blur applied in his Unsane work. (Unsurprisingly, he sounds exactly the same.) Coleman adds dreamy atmospheres, clanging accents and fuzzed-out counterpoint, akin to a painter applying touchups you didn’t realize you needed until you see them in the work. There’s nothing here that really pushes any members’ particular envelopes, though the sampled piano, reserved singing (on the verses) and rolling dynamics of “Respirator” certainly count as unusual for these folks. Lack of innovation aside, though, the sound of noise rock veterans in congress and doing what they do best is reason enough to make the disk worth a spin, or two, or ten.