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Human Greed ‘Fortress Longing’ CD

Human Greed ‘Fortress Longing’ CD

REVIEW FROM BRAINWASHED : For their fourth album, Michael Begg and Deryk Thomas continue the development they began on 2009’s Black Hill album; deeply nocturnal, mournful and staggeringly beautiful music which takes in everything from the slow decay of time to post-colonial regret. This is undoubtedly their most superbly made and personal album to date. Omnempathy / ICR The album begins with a black, velvet envelope of treated piano. Melancholy but not maudlin, the music is powerfully nostalgic as Begg and Thomas try to get into the mind of a sleeping pharaoh in the British Museum who is longing for his lost resting place. Lulled into a relaxed, thoughtful repose, I nearly jumped out of my skin when the slow, steady percussion of "Fortress Longing" breaks through the music like that feeling of falling in your sleep breaks through a dream. There are shades of Bohren & Der Club of Gore’s experiments in mood in the slinky bass motif but Human Greed have become so utterly dreamlike that the comparison is only superficial. Voices emerge through the deep, gorgeous webs of sound as men, women and children intone: "Where is my blanket of sand?" Each time, the poignancy of these thoughts comes through strong. Plucked from their tombs by European and American archaeologists, what was meant to be an eternal rest became an eternal sideshow in museums far from home. On a more immediate level, here are priceless pieces of history taken from the people whose history these ancients were part of. One such piece of history, a gold pendant of two bees made by the Minoans on display in Heraklion, Crete. The Minoans were one of the first to domesticate bees for honey and, in Egypt, bees were symbolic of the nation and the pharaoh. Capturing this complex mixture of feelings, Begg’s colleague from Fovea Hex, Laura Sheeran, orchestrates a sublime vocal interlude on "Weeping Bees of Heraklion" which has the same lilting buzz of what I imagine these sad Minoan bees to sound like. The limited edition of Fortress Longing comes with a bonus disc containing Colin Potter’s reconstruction of the raw materials. Like Potter’s work with Fovea Hex’s recent album, he demonstrates an insightful and unexpected perspective on the music and creates "Deshret" which equals the work Begg and Thomas put into the "rea" album. Long and elaborate tones, just about recognisable from Begg and Thomas’ originals, make up the bulk of the piece before resolving into Julia Kent’s cello playing. I cannot help but be taken aback by how carefully composed and charged Fortress Longing is. Begg and Thomas have definitely gone beyond their previous benchmarks to create one of the albums of the year. This is a deep, multifaceted recording that comes together far better and far stronger than even their best work before this (and I admire the first three albums a lot). It is not simply a soundtrack to the sense of loss of history to shelves and storage cupboards but also a reflection on our own time on earth and what will become of us after death. The final message of Fortress Longing is to make a mark now and let it make its way into the eternity you cannot achieve. PRESS RELEASE : Human Greed’s fourth album “ Fortress Longing: The Internal Campaign for the Safe and Complete Return of the Sleeping Egyptian to the Desert” is night-music at its most acute – unsettling, uncanny, beguiling, bewitching, and often profoundly moving. Founder Michael Begg releases the work on the back of an exhaustive wave of activity. The last 18 months have seen him pack out cathedrals with the sonic swells and squalls of Fragile Pitches, his collaborative project with Nurse With Wound’s Colin Potter, contribute to releases by Blind Cave Salamander, 48 Cameras and Laura Sheeran, and also play a core role in the emergence of the debut album by Fovea Hex, Clodagh Simonds’s cult ensemble, with whom he has performed and recorded since 2007. Rather than thin the mix, however, the insights and juxtaposition of the various disciplines exerted by all this extra curricular activity have helped forge Fortress Longing as the definitive work of melancholic extremism. (A term coined by the Polish press during the band’s 2008 tour of that country) Begg is joined, once more, by erstwhile visual artist Deryk Thomas, and a handful of other performers and friends: Antony and the Johnsons cellist Julia Kent once more lends grace to the proceedings, whilst Fovea Hex colleague Laura Sheeran provides vocal arrangements and harmonies. Nicole Boitos – who painted the blue lamb featured on the cover of the recording also provides a reading voice to Begg’s texts, as does the Norwegian singer Tommy Aashildrod. Further vocal chants and singing bowls are provided by Charlemagne Palestine collaborator and 48 Cameras leader Jean Marie Mathoul, whilst Colin Potter, with whom Begg already collaborates on Fragile Pitches and Fovea Hex also contributes – notably in the 30+ minute work, Deshret, included as an extra disc on a limited edition of the release. The record makes stunningly effective use of the broadest palette of acoustic and electronic tools yet proposed by Human Greed. Pianos (treated, bowed, prepared), cellos, violins, dulcimer, autoharp, guitars, singing bowls, glass armonica, gamelan, all fold, dovetail, and swap identities with synthesised, processed and eroded digital files and field recordings gathered from the trips Begg undertook in researching the record to Ile de Re, Athens, Heraklion, Frankfurt, London and Poznan. A number of formally spoken texts even allow Begg to seemingly make peace with the written word after almost a decade of self imposed silence. The work moves as a single mass, shedding skins and identities as acoustic instruments increasingly take on the role more commonly occupied by ambient electronic beds, whilst the electronics, synths and signals, and manipulated samples and field recordings are teased into releasing their hidden melodic potential. Again and again in Fortress Longing, the discipline of musical form that Human Greed has so thoroughly deconstructed and undermined in their decade long journey, rises out of the boiling, roiling landscape of restless foreboding. The effect – particularly on the elegiac cello arrangement by Julia Kent on The Green Line - is simply heart breaking. Human Greed has delivered a singular and hypnotic work of disagreeable beauty, and Begg the composer, author and producer, is in complete control of his craft. REVIEW FROM VITAL WEEKLY : HUMAN GREED - FORTRESS LONGING (CD by Omnempathy) A month ago we discussed the latest and finest Fovea Hex album, and we noted that one Michael Begg has an important role, but yet who is he? He is also the man behind Human Greed, of whom we reviewed 'Black Hill: Midnight At The Blighted Star' back in Vital Weekly 654. A duo of Begg and Deryk Thomas and a collaborator with Colin Potter on 'Fragile Pitches' (Vital Weekly 733). There are various musicians who lend a hand, such as Julia Kent (Anthony & The Johnsons) on cello and Jean Marie Mathoul (48 Cameras) on singing bowls. If you like Fovea Hex and the various remix CDs that came with releases so far, then Human Greed might very well your cup of tea. Its lesser based on singing than Fovea Hex, and more in ambient textures, but it comes with a wide addition of acoustic instruments, wether or not electronically treated. Besides the cello of Kent, there is also violin, piano, dulcimer, autoharp, guitars, glass and gamelan. That's one side, the other is represented by electronics, synthesizers, field recordings and processings. This is excellent mood music, highly atmospheric, in minor keys with lots of melancholy throughout. A rich release full of hidden drama. Excellent. (FdW)

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