Human Don't Be Angry Guitar Variations

Around 7 Corners
1st November 2019

Format Info

LP + signed postcard

with postcard signed ‘To Monorail’

Generic sleeve with “To Monorail” Signed Postcard
A mostly instrumental musical fiasco exploring the deadlier side of guitar playing by Malcolm “Human Don’t Be Angry” Middleton. The album also features synths, a piano ballad and a dissociative guitar fugue, which is why it was nearly called “Tubular Balls”.

Belying the flippant titles and gentle self-mockery of his chosen moniker, Malcolm Middleton is in blissful form on his latest album as Human Don’t Be Angry. These are recordings often made in off-kilter moments it seems, some like You’ll Find The Right Note (Eventually) sound not unlike Middleton’s just picked up his trusted acoustic guitar on awakening, playing lush open major chords adorned with tinkling chimes and early digital synths. It sounds like the sun rising over a beach on the east coast of Scotland, dappled waves, light bouncing off the undulations in the swell of the ocean. The mixing and layering is handled wonderfully, sounding organic and well tempered.

On tracks like Cynical, Middleton’s use of a loop pedal and rudimentary percussion interacts sonically with the close mic’d nature of the stringed instruments. The tone, particularly in the clustered bass notes and rough synth low end suggest Ash Ra’s Manuel Gottsching covering tracks from Arab Strap’s Philophobia. It’s beautiful and cyclical in nature, far from cynical. When a full drum crashes in towards the end we’re safely in the hands of someone who helped define the “post-rock” genre except this time we’re reaching out into the stars. Middleton keeps up a consistent tone throughout so that when his vocal emerges, as on Come Over To My Place, we’re reminded perhaps of the darker sides of Pink Floyd’s moon. With lush 70s guitar effects and expertly paced atmosphere, it’s strangely stirring and sad, like the best of Middleton’s career in whatever guise it has taken.

Human Don’t Be Angry succeeds here on not being angry at all. Middleton’s approach to atmosphere here is stern at points perhaps, but there’s enough bright optimism and playfulness littered through out this fun collection of house-born jams to make it a well rounded album in its own right.