Published by Davide Pappalardo on March 8, 2016
Once again we talk about the Naples-based band Ash Code, which we already reviewed with their debut album Oblivion (2014); now they return with their sophomore album released by SwissDarkNights, called Posthuman. The band is formed by Adriano Belluccio, Alessandro Belluccio and Claudia SchöneNacht, under the production of Silvio Speranza and of the studio L’Arte Dei Rumori; they don’t change their sound of reference, using once again the styles of post punk and coldwave / darkwave with an international touch. Everything is enriched by dark and misty minimal electronic music, which is perfect for their songwriting; they will probably be praised even for this work, the second in their growing and young discography.
The union of grave and shrilling string instruments and synths is once again a triumph card, and the voice of Alessandro, the synthesizers of Claudia and the bass and drum machine of Adriano concur to the general effect; we don’t have to think, anyway, to a carbon copy of the debut, as some new elements are used with a stronger structure and more ethereal sounds. To do that, they even used peculiar instruments like the theremin and DIY analogic synths, trying to achieve a less digital sound; it worked and now we have tracks that are enriched by authenticity and the effect of an actual sound.
The album starts with It’s time to face the abyss and its evocative sounds and pulsating rhythms; then, reverberations and captivating phrasing are added, until the start of the dark singing and the rhythmic sessions linked with melancholic synthetic melodies. So we have a charming refrain which indulges in its sound layers; a song that, in its second part, doesn’t dismiss shrilling elements, even if the melodic sound is always on the front.
Challenging the sea develops itself between sound spirals and a strong drum machine rhythm, in a post punk connotation that it’s soon opened up by majestic lines and nightly chords; the charming voice of Alessandro finds his way between the movements, and it meets the intervention of the processed voice of Claudia. The result is a crawling episode which opens itself to epic and enthralling structures; we even have very evocative rhythmic bridges, and they are the origin of the final section, a strong point in the song.
Sand starts with ambient sounds, soon overpowered by an arpeggio linked with a synthetic rhythm; then we have a nice synth movement while the singer shows himself with misty vocal reverberations, and enthralling keys and electronic cymbals appear on the scene. The song evolves with 80’s minimal sounds, in an obsessively repeated refrain; the alternating structures are the core of the track, in a soundwave that ebbs and flows giving us the different movements.
The titletrack is a robust affair, with granitic rhythms and riffs, united with majestic keys; the dark ride is enriched by the effected vocals, while some gothic sounds give us a pause before the electronic boogie starts again. An episode which shows us a certain variety in its character, where the darkness sometimes shows us a more energetic aspect; once again, the cold and melancholic melody is not forgotten, in a wide orchestral crescendo.
Tide grows in a sound spiral completed by pulsating basslines and evocative structures, while the narrative voice of the singer keeps their same nature; bass arpeggios and dreamy arches return in a controlled composition that closes the circle. The general atmosphere is charming and dreamy, but the track doesn’t forget its electronic vortexes, using them in a controlled way together with fascinating keys; we are close to the end, where a refrain is repeated until a well developed arpeggio and some rhythmic claps take the stage.
A new dawn is the epitaph of the album, a suite which evolves at the start with groovy synths linked with a crawling drum machine; then, dreamy synthetic choruses are placed, giving us an atavistic atmosphere characterized by a strong effect on the listener. A union of synthetic and analogical elements is the substrate for the suffering vocals of Alessandro, while melancholic crescendos give us an epic theme we can’t be indifferent to; the minimal sound structures are here aptly enriched by melodic movements that give us musical images, even creating an epic cinematographic soundscape.
Posthuman is the second episode for a young band that is already showing its skills in a music linked to a certain context, but with its own well developed identity; their songwriting skills are always controlled and focused on the evocation of nightly atmospheres, but they’re not afraid to experiment in some occasions, even getting faster and using more the bass or the minimal electronic element. This equilibrium generates those oscillations and movements that give us a coherent but not monotonous album, which is more than a compilation of songs; this is not a concept album in the classic sense, but we have an atmospheric and musical unity that gives us a central theme, the theme of the post-human (indeed) modern existence and the relationship between humanity, biology, environment, society and technology. So, retro sounds are used here to speak about the modern times, a tendency chosen by many modern bands of this genre; the result is a very interesting work which shows us once again one of the better new entries in both the Italian panorama and the international one.
Score: 8, 5