Posts Tagged ‘Human Worth’

Human Worth – 19th June 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

I’d love to avoid tedious repetition but it’s hard to review yet another Human Worth release without mentioning just how fucking great this label is, because the name means what it says – it’s a label of rare integrity, which always donates a percentage of proceeds to charitable causes, more often than not one local to the artist, and for this release by ‘shape shifting south London noise rock outfit Thee Alcoholics’, 10% of proceeds from this record will be donated to the south London based charity The Lewisham Primary Care Recovery Service.

They’re also outstanding with their radar for quality noise, and Thee Alcoholics sit comfortably on the label’s roster, delivering ‘songs that rail against injustice, intolerance and institutionalised Great British apathy – neatly wrapped around screeching, trash guitar riffs and blast beat driven bass synths. Mixing the gnarly, outsider big muff energy of early Tad and Mudhoney with the industrial crush repetition of Godflesh. Ugly vocals are buried somewhere between the Brainbombs and Girls Against Boys.’

Could it get any better? Well, actually, yes! The EP’s artwork, by Tony Mountford, tips a hat to Therapy?’s live 7inch ‘Opal Mantra’, while the recording itself is pitched as ‘a document of the journey so far – 30 minutes of agro [sic] drunk rock n roll. In the red sizzle of a load of broken equipment. The band barely holding it together in their chaotic element.’ Oh, and it’s mastered by Jon Hamilton of Part Chimp.

Human Worth may be a young label, but the sense of musical history and heritage that informs their choices is remarkable, and all of the references trace a solid lineage to the early 90s – and it’s hard to overstate just how exciting those short few years were. Because as much as it was about Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine breaking the mainstream, it was about a current of alternative guitar-based music which occupied John Peel’s playlists and infinite column inches in Melody Maker (if not so much the NME). And the live ‘Opal Mantra’ EP is absolutely fucking blinder and makes for an admirable reference point, packing as it does raw and ripping renditions of ‘Innocent X’ and ‘Potato Junkie’ alongside one of the best non-album tracks ever. That a band could chuck a song like that out in such a fashion was a revelation at the time and it’s interesting to see all of these references come together here.

For me, Tad was always way more the quintessence of grunge than, say, Pearl Jam, the gritty, sweaty metal heft of songs about farming and manual labour really getting to grips with the reason the Seattle scene emerged representing the blue-collar – or perhaps more accurately the plaid-collar demographic who needed to vent after several hours of slog and grind. And Thee Alcoholics really capture that mood, often at a frantic pace that suggests a strong influence from mid- to late-eighties hardcore melded with nineties noise and grunge.

Live recordings can be difficult: too crisp and clean and so polished and overdubbed it doesn’t sound live, or otherwise just dingy and shit; this one is great because it’s not dingy and shit, but isn’t exactly ‘produced’ either: it’s dense and you can hear the audience – sometimes shouting to one another during the songs, because they’re tossers – and it all makes for a document that’s perhaps flawed to some ears, but is, as a document, absolutely perfect because you really do feel like you’re there.

Live At The Piper features live renditions of songs from their debut album released on cassette, and seven-inch releases, and it’s warts-and-all in the vein of The Fall’s Totale’s Turns – and it needs to be: it’s a proper live document rather than some polished-up, super-dubbed-up, hyper-clean fictionalised reimagination of events, as they power through eight songs in twenty-four minutes.

‘A Ghetto Thing’ is two minutes of throbbing, thrashing fury, rushing its way to the safety of a pub car park in blitzkrieg of noise, while ‘Turn on the Radio’ is built around a driving riff which switches up a key for the chorus; the vocals are half buried and the drums dominate everything and it’s all over in less than two minutes, which is time enough to do the job of grabbing you by the throat and kneeing you in the nuts several times. It’s a hell of a racket, but amidst the frenetic crashing of cymbals and general murk is a song that’s strong enough to lodge in your brain, and it’s rare for bands this noisy, this messy, to incorporate ‘catchy’ elements, favouring instead sheer force and sonic impact – which they do elsewhere, not least of all with the high-impact forty-one second detonation that is ‘Sweetheart’. Then again. ‘She’s the Man’ is built around a nagging locked-in industrial groove, but it’s also scuzzy as hell, and it’s not hard to see where the Godflesh and Girls Against Boys references come in, and it’s arguably the strongest song on the set, a low-sling grinding wheeze emerging from shards of feedback.

Six-and-a-half-minute set closer ‘Politicians’ is low, slow, and grimy – which is extremely fitting, really, and the booming, sludgy bass is just magnificent.

As with the B E L K release, Human Worth have adhered with the old hardcore ethic of releasing a band in its rawest, most unadulterated form, and it works because it preserves the energy and integrity of the moment. It ain’t pretty, but it’s real.



Human Worth – 17th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

For context, I shall quote from the notes which accompany this release: ‘Old Mayor are Adam Kammerling and Owen Gildersleeve (Modern Technology / Human Worth). They were most active between 2005 – 2009 sharing bills with the likes of Boris, Russian Circles, Heirs, A Storm of Light, Orange Goblin and ASVA. ‘Shelter Ceremony Collapse’ was recorded during a stint in New York in the winter of 2008, where the duo laid down this beastly three track, recorded by Chris Pierce at Technical Ecstasy Studio in New Brunswick. But the recording never saw the light of day, with the duo parting ways soon after.

‘Fifteen years later, on hearing the news that legendary Brighton promoters Tatty Seaside Town, who’d given the band their first shows back in the early years, were calling it a day and putting on a final weekender the duo felt it was the right time to finally come back together. To celebrate they unearthed this EP.’

They certainly achieved a considerable amount during their time active, but left a scant record of it in the form of a critically-lauded eponymous five-track EP, which makes the immensely-belated arrival of this archival recording all the more welcome, and for those unfamiliar with them the first time around (myself included), Shelter Ceremony Collapse provides an outstanding introduction.

There’s an adage about how you treat people when you’re on the way up, and this release and the circumstances surrounding it are very much characteristic of Owen and Human Worth: not only reconvening Old Mayor for a farewell concert, but releasing the EP with a portion of proceeds going to charity speaks for the nature of the people and the operation.

As for the EP itself… While the title has a ring to it as a phrase, while conjuring mental images of crumbling edifices and societal disarray and something vaguely post-apocalyptic (or perhaps I simply have a vivid imagination which steers oof its own accord toward the bleaker, darker prospects), it’s also the titles of the EP’s three songs in the order they appear.

That said ‘Shelter’ is so heavy it almost brings about its own collapse inside the first two of its monstrous six minutes. It’s a slow, dirgy tune that begins delicately with clean, picked guitar, building a misty atmosphere of mist and loam, the resonant timbres of the strings rich and earthy and redolent of Neurosis – and then the distortion and drums pound in, hard and heavy and hit like a tidal wave crashing with full force against the abdomen and knocking the air from the lungs.

Kammerling’s screaming vocals are largely buried beneath the sludgy landslide; he sounds possessed, but is barely audible for the downtuned sludge, and Owen’ hard-hitting drums cut through with thunderous force.

‘Ceremony’ is but an instrumental interlude, a cacophony of shrieks and wails. It may only be a couple of minutes long, but the sounds of tortured souls leave you feeling unsettled and uncomfortable, which is either a bad state or the ideal state to receive the shuddering blast of the crushing ‘Collapse’. It’s properly heavy, snail-paced doom, and it’s potent, powerful stuff.

It would be wonderful to think that the one-off reunion wasn’t a one-off, and that it might spur more performances and perhaps even more new material – but they’ve already spoiled us, and Shelter Ceremony Collapse is the perfect release to expand and confirm their place in the annals.



Human Worth / God Unknown – 28th June 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

The release date may be a long way off, but I wanted to get in early with a review and put word out before it’s sold out – not least of all because I’ve been following Beige Palace from the very start, catching their live debut at now defunct DIY rehearsal-space-cum-venue CHUNK in Leeds in 2016. And Christ, I miss that place. It wasn’t the most accessible of spaces, but still within walking distance of the train station, and they hosted some bloody great bands. And it was the place where …(something) ruined made its debut, meaning that on a personal level, it will always be remembered as a special place. Beige Palace impressed then (so much so they used a quote from my review on their website and in press releases), but there was no way of foreseeing that they’d go on to support both Mclusky and Shellac on their visits to Leeds in recent years, bringing their brand of minimal lo-fi indie to the main room at the legendary Brudenell. I’d like to claim I have an ear / eye for bands with unique qualities, and that my many long nights spent seeing unknown bands in tiny venues is not only indicative of a commitment to grass roots music and seeking out the next hot act, but something of a talent, but the truth is I simply enjoy these smaller shows.

The fact that Mclusky and Shellac chose to play the 450-capacity Brudenell suggests they are of the same mindset.

And so it is that the ever-brilliant and ever-dependable Human Worth have teamed up with Good Unknown for a split 7” featuring Beige Palace and Cassels – thus demonstrating the beauty of the split single, which more often tan not you tend to buy because you like one of the bands, and then discover another band in the process.

This split single is a corker.

The punningly-titled ‘Waterloo Sublet’ is a dingy, dungeon-crawling post-punk drone where a long intro of feedback and gut-quivering bass paves the way for a deranged up-and-down angular noise-rock workout that leaves you feeling punch-drink and dizzy. The dual vocals are more the voices of psychosis than a complimentary bounce back-and-forth, and the result is psychologically challenging. It’s not easy or accessible, but it is unhinged and big on impact. And once again, Beige Palace show that you don’t need extreme volume or big riffs or loads of distortion to make music that disturbs the comfortable flow in the best possible way.

Cassels also bring some spiky, jerky, jarring post-punk, and their crisp, cutty guitar work paired with half-sung narrative lyrics are reminiscent of Wire. And then, halfway through, the tempo quickens and it erupts into a guitar-driven frenzy and from out of nowhere, it goes flame-blastingly noisy. It pretty much articulates my own relationship with writing – and not writing, and channels a whole range of complex issues spanning the relationship between mental health and the creation of art. It’s a cracking tune, and one that says that for the unfamiliar, Cassels are a band worth exploring.

Split single – purpose fulfilled.



Human Worth – 17th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

God Pile is the debut release from Leeds duo Grub Nap, a duo consisting of Dan Barter (Dvne, Joe Pesci) on guitar and ‘back mouth’ and Steve Myles (Cattle, Groak, Thank, Khuda) on drums and ‘front mouth’. As if their joint pedigree isn’t recommendation enough (and having witnessed the majority of the aforementioned acts playing life for myself, I can vouch for that), it’s being released on Human Worth, and the limited run of fifty tapes has gone in advance of the release date.

And being Human Worth, 10% of all proceeds are being donated to charity, in this instance Leeds Mind, promoting positive mental health and wellbeing and providing help and support to those who need it most.

Now, I’ve mentioned this variously before, but for mental health and wellbeing, music can be – and certainly is for me – an immense help, and it’s the gnarlier, noiser stuff I often find provides the greatest comfort, especially in a live setting. It’s all about the escape, the release, the catharsis of raw emotions pitched against raging noise.

And Barter and Myles, who, according to the band bio ‘first played together in a hardcore band in their late teens and have teamed back up to churn out sludgecore for folks with short attention spans and no interest in wizards or flag waving’ definitely bring the noise, and the describe God Pile as ‘a golden brown, 15 minute, crumbly, introspective riff lattice. Snappy(ish) songs about greed, crippling anxiety, suburban nuclear mishaps and flagellant rozzers. 6 knuckle dragging clods of down tuned insolent rage.’

The longest of the six songs on here is three minutes and eighteen seconds long: the rest are all between a minute and two-and-a-half minutes long.

They pack a lot of action and a lot of noise into those short spans. The guitars are so thick and gritty the riffs churn your guts, so you don’t miss the bass, and Myles’ hard-hitting drumming is dynamic and varied, with shifts in both volume and tempo keeping the songs moving well, and the Raw-throated vocals are absolutely brutal. There’s a late 80s / early 90s feel to their brand of dingy noise, landing somewhere between early Head of David and Fudge Tunnel, then going full grind on the minute–long ‘The Daily Phet’.

Slowing to a downtuned crawl and ending with a howl of feedback, one suspect the title of the last track, ‘Crowd Pleaser’ is likely ironic – you can’t really have a go-nuts mosh to this. But then, after the intensity of the preceding cuts, you’re a knackered sweaty mess already – and that’s just sitting at home listening. Oh yes. Grub Nap hit the spot.



Human Worth – 10th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something of a tightness around the noise scene , especially around a nexus of London acts who swap members for side projects and collaborations on a remarkably frequent basis. This is a good thing, for while all of these projects share much common ground, each offers something distinctive and unique, too, a different twist or angle from the others.

Human Worth has given a home to a number of releases from acts which have emerged from this mini-melting pot, notably recent output from Remote Viewing and Fucking Lovely. And now they’re really spoiling us with the latest endeavours from The Eurosuite, who, their bio informs us ‘consist of 4 lovely people who make disquieting no wave songs that will equally pierce your ear drums and move your hips’ and whose ‘previous musical endeavours include USA Nails, Nitkowski, Screen Wives and Mister Lizard.

What Sorry has in common with both the Remote Viewing and Fucking Lovely releases is, that like most Human Worth releases, it’s noisy. It’s also absolute class.

But it’s also very different, with electronic elements not only incorporated, but highly prominent. The first track, ‘Cup of Water’ is sparse and atmospheric, with glitchy mechanised drums bouncing about, and it’s intriguing and really quite gentle – and then they bring the noise with ‘BODY’ where it really does all kick off – and kick off it does, with frenetic drums and guitars blasting away like crazy.

The electro/noise rock crossover is unusual – while they’re by no means the first act to do it, their approach means they don’t really sound like anyone else, not least of all because the range across the album’s span is quite remarkable. Noisy as it is, the noise is quite contained for the most part, or otherwise countered by the synths to conjure an equilibrium of sorts – or, at times, a jarring, jolting contrast.

‘Seven’ showcases just how hard it can hit when everything’s cranked up and going full-tilt, but then again, ‘LIB’ throbs and pounds and nags like a melding of DAF’s ‘Der Mussolini’ with I Like Trains’ latest output, but as performed by Big Black. They leap and lurch between jarring, jolting blasts to rather more accessible structures, and I’m variously reminded of Killing Joke, Selfish Cunt, and Daughters – the latter not least of all because of the manic energy and intensity, as well as the skewed angular noise that cuts across the rhythm section.

‘Total’ throws it all into the mix as it goes big on a mathy post-punk vibe while packing on some dense guitars and thudding bass into its two-minute duration, with hints of …Trail of Dead, and again, it positively crackles with a frenetic energy. The last song, ‘The Dream’ is truly climactic, an explosion of squalling guitars, thudding drums and sparking electricity.

Sorry is an album of contrasts, of variety, and an album that doesn’t give a fuck for genre or convention. For these reasons, Sorry is an exciting album. It’s an album that doesn’t sit still for a second, and it’s impossible to predict where it’s going to go from one bar to the next, never mind one minute to the next. It’s dizzying, but also – to use a phrase popular in the tabloid press – jaw-dropping. Sorry is a sonic frenzy and endlessly inventive, and if it leaves you feeling punch-drunk and giddy by the end – Sorry, not sorry.



Human Worth – 3rd March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Irish foursome Hands Up Who Wants to Die feature members of Shifting, No Spill Blood, and Wild Rocket, and – as you’d expect from an album released on Human Worth – it’s heavy. But it’s not just lumpen-headed thumping: there’s a lot to absorb on Nil All – and so much more than noise.

The opening of ‘Clothbound’ is atmospheric, subtle, intriguing. And then the bass slams in like a lump hammer. The guitar, rather than following with any direct riff, creeps around, twisting and turning, while the vocals are those of a strangled gargoyle – ugly, menacing, perturbing.

There’s a fair array of stylistic variation across the album’s eight tracks, and it’s this unusual relationship between the guitar and bass that is most intriguing. ‘0-0’ is a deconstructed jazz semi-spoken word piece where neither bass nor guitar confirm to the time signature of the drumming: Enablers may be a touchstone, but ultimately, this is something unique. The same is true of the low and slow theatrical math-rock of ‘L’inconnue’ that comes on like a dreamed reimagining of Shellac that lumbers its way into a howling psychodrama before slowly falling apart over the course of an eight and a half minutes that will make you feel like your limbs are slowly being separated from our body.

Satre famously wrote in Nausea that ‘hell is other people’ and this messy-sounding gut-churning bass-driven, feedback-strewn behemoth is a worthy soundtrack which corresponds with the urge to purge after too much time among the masses – like the excruciating torture of a trip into town on a weekend or lunchtime. It’s a crushingly heavy dirge, and the guitars nag and gnaw at your skull while the bass kicks you hard in the guts. And then it goes off-kilter and lumbers and lurches all over, and that hellish throb continues into the grainy drone of ‘Hell Is Just More Of What’s Already True’. It may only be a couple of minutes long, but it’s lugubrious as fuck.

‘God’s Favourite’ is like a three-way pileup of Shellac, Pavement, and Her Name is Calla, and these guys seem determined to drag the listener through some dark and difficult places – sonically and emotionally. This, of course, is the selling point for Nil All. It’s an album that rages, raves, groans and sighs as it explores those uncomfortable spaces and challenges the listener in a way that delivers optimal rewards. It channels the pain, anguish, and confusion of being alive and articulates it in a way you didn’t realise was possible.

Signing off with the blasting noise-fest that is ‘Ludger Sylbaris’ – a morass of booming bass and sinewy guitar havoc – Nil All is not overtly uplifting or cathartic. It’s schizophrenic, twisted, dark, unpredictable, deranged. And absolutely fucking top.



Human Worth – 3rd February 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

A shriek of feedback prefaces the gnarly blast of a monster rhythm section, thunderous drums paired with a snarling bass. And so begins ‘Short Distance Runner’, the first of six songs on Remote Viewing’s Modern Addictions. You know in an instant that it’s going to be good.

Of course, you know it’s going to be good before you hear a single sound.

Featuring members of Palehorse, Million Dead, Sly & The Family Drone, Nitkowski and Wound (to name but a few) is quite the underground supergroup. Plus, Modern Addictions is being released on Human Worth, which is in itself a guarantee of heavy, noisy shit of the highest calibre. So yes, you know it’s going to be good. But even then, it’s hard to be braced for something this good.

The guitar alternates between thick, sludgy chords and really sinewy lead lines that buzz and drill, twist and bend and wrap themselves around you and dig in like barbed wire. The tracks are backed back to back, making the cumulative effect of the heavy battering even more acutely felt. Single cut ‘Your Opinion is Wrong’, showcased here in December is broadly representative of the dense, chunky, churning sound of the album as a whole, but doesn’t fully convey the extent of its textures and variety.

It’s not all punishing density, and the band are keen to highlight that theirs is a sound that demonstrates a ‘broader sound that incorporates elements of hardcore, post-rock and shoegaze into the palette of sludge and noise-rock’.

There are some tight grooves amidst the racket, ‘Wasted on Purpose’ effortlessly transitions through a number of varied passages, from full-on balls-out riffage to delicate, evocative swirling post-rock chimes which gracefully convey a very different kind of emotional weight, and if the title ‘Cleveland Balloonfest ‘86’ suggests something bright and airy, sonically it’s more the Hindenburg disaster with it’s slow, low-slung growling guitar that grinds away at a crawl for six and a half anguish-filled minutes.

If ‘Watch Me For the Changes’ is a demonic dirge of epic proportions with a remarkably light ending (and you can’t help but suspect the title is perhaps a reference to the band’s directions for playing it) ,the final track, ‘A.B.B.A. ABBA’ springs an unexpected surprise as the band switch into disco mode. No, of course it doesn’t really. It’s seven minutes of dolorous doom, thick with atmosphere and dripping distortion. It’s the sound of weight so great that it feels as if it’s collapsing in on itself, decaying and crumbling on the way to a slow death, that leaves you feeling hollowed out and devastated. It’s the perfect finale to a superlative album.



Ahead of the release of Modern Addictions available to pre-order from 2nd December, Human Worth have unveiled a video for Remote Viewing’s ‘Your Opinion Is Wrong’.

Featuring members of Palehorse, Million Dead, Sly & The Family Drone, Nitkowski and Wound (to name but a few) the band are no strangers to making heavy music, but together they demonstrate an even broader sound that incorporates elements of hardcore, post-rock and shoegaze into the palette of sludge and noise-rock.

Featuring guest vocals from Amée Chanter of Human Leather, ‘Your Opinion Is Wrong’ is an absolute belter of a raging racket, and it’s absolutely brutal in the best possible way. Check it here:



Human Worth – 4th November 2022

That I’m a huge, huge fan of Human Worth is probably quite apparent by now, or really ought to be. As a label, they’re the absolute model of the cottage industry DIY label with a social conscience that’s matched by the quality of the music they release. How many labels can you name where absolutely every single release in their catalogue is an absolute fucking banger? And now, it gets even better, as the community spirit can be seen to be an integral aspect embraced by the acts on their roster, as the assemblage of the appropriately-named Fucking Lovely indicates.

Well, it probably depends on your taste, of course: it’s not lovely in the lilting, floral, melodic sense – more in the ironic or sarcastic sense, as this EP is every inch the gnarly barrage of noise you’d expect from the Human Worth alumni who feature in the lineup, which the bio describes as ‘an evolving noise project brought into being by Joel Harries from 72%. Featuring Luc Hess (Coilguns / Closet Disco Queen) on drums and Thomas Lacey (Cower / Yards / The Ghost of a Thousand) on vocals.’

They go on to detail how this record ‘came together through shared connections with Human Worth and brief meetings playing gigs in 2019’; and that ‘the music grew steadily from the initial guitar and drum machine tracks into the frantic and unnerving songs of “Catalogue Of Errors”’ which were ‘recorded remotely between the UK & Switzerland’. It seems like this is the way collaborations will happen from now on. This is probably a (rare) post-pandemic positive: distance and scheduling are no object when it’s possible record at any time and from any distance.

This feels like there is absolutely no distance: it’s the sound of a band playing at ten thousand decibels and right in your face, so harsh and full on that your eyes pop out of their sockets.

It’s brief and intense. Four tracks of jarring, jolting, stuttering riffs and shouting pitched against one another at obtuse angles and colliding against one another in the most awkward and ungainly fashion, for maximum ugly impact and packed into less than ten minutes. Oh yes, it’s fucking lovely alright. It makes your skin crawl and your hair stand on end, it makes you clench and quiver , makes your shoulders tense and your neck stuff. ‘Billy Boy’ is gnarly and full-tilt Jesus Lizard psycho, all dirty guitars, gritty bass and twisted manic vocals. ‘Maximum Exhaustion’ is a soundtrack of relatability, relaying the staggering, stumbling, lurching delirium of fatigue beyond fatigue – also known as life.

The full-on earth-shattering hardcore of ‘Bricked’ draws the EP to a close with samples echoing around low in the mix and the words inaudible, and while angry, sludgy acts are disparate but numerous, I’m reminded of Blacklisters here.

It’s a gloriously demented racket, and it hurts. And it most definitely is absolutely fucking lovely.