Ambitious to a Fault
JD Shultz, aka Human Brother, is a feature on the Los Angeles visual arts scene who draws inspiration for his paintings from music. He has attempted to turn the equation around and create music, rather than draw from it. Technically, the playing is proficient. Musically, the compositions are interesting. Lyrically, things are sophomoric at best. The production, synth programming, and arrangements leave much to be desired. On his website, Shultz professes to be a self taught producer and engineer. Just because one can, in theory, do something on their own does not mean that they necessarily should.
The main failing of this album is that every trick and flavor in the book is thrown into the mix. The end result is not unlike a first timer’s attempt at using Garage Band. Take some finger picked guitar, throw in some mid 90’s Duran Duran synth, add some hard panned drums, and how about a sitar lick just for good measure. Oh, and better throw in some wooshy outer space noises just because. Woof. Things end up sounding like a hot convoluted mess. The real pisser is that some of the songs start out really strong only to be ruined by some ill-advised addition a third of a way into the track (“Made of Light,” ahem).
“Into the Water” is the highlight of the record purely due to the fact that Shultz picks one direction stylistically and sticks with it for the duration of the song. “Might be Gone” is almost unlistenable as it transitions between an attempt at electronica, atonal bass driven minimal, new wave revival, and then a break down into a guitar solo that is flat out confusing.
The pity to this record is that underneath all the overproduction, there is something good at the base of things. Seeing Shultz live, without all the studio magic, or hearing acoustic versions of these songs would be worthwhile. But in the present form… It’d be best to pass.