When is space ambient not really space ambient? When does sci-fi feel more like horror that sci-fi? When does reality start to blur with fiction so we can no longer tell? These are the sorts of questions I was asking this morning as I listened to Human Engineer, the latest submission of dark ambient artist Solatipour Reza from Kalpamantra Records.
My first impression was that this album was a sort of tribute story to the Alien/Predator film/game/comic universe, the very name of the album “Human Engineer” and the monolithic face sculpture immediately bring “Prometheus” to mind. It has a healthy dose of cryptic, almost haunting drones that make it sound as if it could have been ripped from those soundtracks but the album goes deeper than that. While certainly there is some Xenomorph love going on in the album, it’s about more than that. The story is very earth based, the drones and distortions present in each of the tracks don’t have that atmospheric, soaring feeling, rather they are very grounded and organic. The aliens have come to us.
The album fringes here and there with some horror, keeping the listener on their toes and keeping their guard up but the horror element never really takes control of the sound. I think that was a wise decision for this album because it could have gone too far into “Alien” territory if it had. The album has enough strength on its own that it doesn’t need to do any more than give a nod to the Alien universe. The music tells a very original, if not clichéd, story of the aliens coming to us and the jarring realization amongst humans that we are not alone. The horror elements I mentioned earlier are not the jarring “Holy shit!” scary elements you’d get from a horror film soundtrack, rather the horror comes from an ever building existential dread. The longer the album goes, the more you can pick out elements in each song.
The instrumentation and production on the album are quite good, each note is clear and precise. It doesn’t echo much, but that’s why the album has drone. And damn does it have drones! I think Human Engineer could give any SunnO))) album a run for its money. Yet at the same time the music isn’t foggy (for lack of a better word) and overburdened with noise.
It’s a terrific album with great production and a great story to go with it. It has a strong opening and a very human, earthy connection in the music. I recommend this album to those that enjoy the sci-fi soundtracks that aren’t Star Trek or Star Wars.
Listen and support!