Artist: Slam
Title: Human Response
Label: Soma Records
By: Ryan Simoneau | 30 January 2008
  1. Subject Invisible
  2. No One Left To Follow
  3. Weekday Mourning
  4. Looking North
  5. Ghost Song
  6. We Medicate
  7. Reluctant Traveller
  8. Azure
  9. Staccato Rave
  10. We're Not Here
  11. Memoir

Slam "Human Response"

Out Now on Soma Records

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a rabid follower of the group but I did enjoy their “Alien Radio” album quite a bit and the single “Lifetimes” was one of the biggest tunes of 2001. Since then, there’s been a remix album as well as the disappointing follow-up. In 2007, the legendary techno act released “Human Response” and a return to form was expected.

The results are as you’d expect from a Slam record. Crisp, clean and top-notch production, a big single and a decidedly mixed bag. Opener, “Subject Line,” is a minimal opener that sets the scene for the soothing “No One Left To Follow.” Nice groove but certainly more for head nodding than feet shuffling. Another musical interlude follows before giving way to the sparking “Looking North,” which shimmers along with a glistening melody and light, airy house beats. Again, strictly headphone listening stuff so far.

By track five, the pace begins to pickup as “Ghost Song” brings the energy up a tad. A fine tune but certainly nothing memorable. But just as things were beginning to get going we get hit with the inevitable, absurdly placed, downtempo cuts. “We Medicate,” can be best described as the equivalent of a Valium. Lots of moody synths and layers but a lack of a strong melody makes this song utterly forgettable. It’s as though Slam said, “Hey, we really need a couple of downtempo tracks in the middle of the album to show our diversity and great production skills.” Guys, sorry, this trend must stop. I’ve got nothing against diversity or downtempo but if you want to go down that road, you’ve got to give it some soul.

Finally, standout single “Azure” hits and it’s as though the skies have parted. Right from the opening kick drum and melody, you’re hooked. Easily the best song on the album, this simple and straightforward house number works well on so many different levels. It’s got a killer groove and a melody that will be ringing around your head for days. It’s the only cut on the album I’d want to replay instantly.

Sadly, the joy of that song is short lived. The bleep-bloop sounds of today’s minimal electro trend return by the next track, “Staccato Rave,” making you hunger for more melody. This track is grating and easily the most irritable song on the album. As the album winds down, “We’re Not Here,” continues from where the last track left off. All filler and nothing killer. Closer, “Memoir,” is minimal and also forgettable as well, which is everything a closer shouldn’t be.

Sad to say that Slam have not delivered their finest work here. What this album could have used is a track like “Lifetimes.” The problem with today’s minimal madness is that the artist album suffers from great production but very little “classic” songs. Will we all be reaching for the sounds of the “bleep-bloop” brigade in twenty years? Doubtful. Now a song like “Lifetimes” is one that you would want to revisit. Perhaps diehard Slam fans would say their sound is evolving but I think they’ve played it safe by catering to the latest trends. Overall, more “Azure” and less filler next time please lads.

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