HUMANS AS ORNAMENTS are all about finding connections within opposites. Catchy falsetto melodies and uncompromising screamo vocals, progressive math rock and dreamy psychedelic fields. Drawing from acts such as Lingua Nada, SchnAAk, The Armed and The Mars Volta, they blend multiple genres into a playful, yet aggressive and experimental style. A perfect fit for odd-time listeners craving accessibility and indie fans embracing their aggressive side. Today, we’re giving you a great example of their craft, an immersive live performance of their new track “Re:create“, an eclectic rock experiment that demonstrates the band’s willingness to mess with the way they approach their craft, giving the listener a serious beacon of hope for the full record, “Between trance and overstimulation”, coming up on April 23rd, 2021.
Comments the band: “This is our most melancholic and gloomy song yet. What inspired us here, was the washed out and almost doomy atmosphere of Converge’s more ambient songs. At some point we just found the right combination of sustain, low end and tempo to make this sound come alive as a two piece.”
Challenging the boundaries of a two piece
Socialised in the East-German noise rock scene, the two childhood friends Dave and Dennis quickly picked up a musical ethos that looks to challenge musical expectations. Early on they started exploring the limitations of songwriting as a duo and the excitement of unconventional song structures.
Around 2014 they chose to leave their small hometown for the more vibrant Leipzig and Berlin. Being a hub for math and noise-rock music, the subcultural scenes in these cities not only connected them with musicians of similar styles but broadened and intensified their understanding of what experimental music can be. Especially coming into contact with the noise-pop outfit Lingua Nada and the network around it had a major impact on their musical journey. This is where they learned to develop a coherent live set, finesse their sound and extend their sonic ideas into the visual world. Based on these experiences, Dennis and Dave decided to give their project a new home in 2019 – Humans As Ornaments.
This also extends to their visual experience. Never quite at ease with the aesthetic appeal of underground music culture they try to bring it to life in a new way. Cause hey – can’t subcultural music be cool and sexy too?
On their debut effort “The Option To Disappear” they teamed up with Adam Lenox (Zouj, Lingua Nada) to blend these themes of accessibility and experimentation that captures their most innovative songwriting to date.
“7 German underground artists that will make you lose your shit”, by HUMANS AS ORNAMENTS
Zouj – Anxious Sleep
If aliens are actually real, Zouj equips us with the tools to speak to them. With his unheard take on experimental RnB, bleeps and bloops have never sounded more human. Definitely one of the most inspiring musicians out there!
Chaver – A Cellar Door
Chaver might be one of the best sounding metal bands out there. They are a master of using the contrast sound and silence to melt your fucking face off, while retraumatizing your deepest fears. A must listen for fans of noisy music of all sorts
Aua – I don’t want it darker
Aua show you how it feels to be stuck in the soundtrack of a 70s horror movie. Especially their title track manages to capture a very honest and almost childish feeling of melancholy and longing. Imagine the fragile vocals of The Notwist and the pristine synth sounds of Caribou mixed with the feel of an old psychedelic record.
Salomea – Outdoors
If you ever wondered how evil fairies sound during midnight, Salomea could be your jam. As an experimental pop artist Salomea amazes us with distorted jazz drum skits, angelic vocals and a perfect blend of catchy and weird production choices.
Zinnschauer – Sonnen im Gesicht
Over the past decade Zinnschauer redefined singer/songwriter music with his non-linear approach to songwriting. His albums are interconnected fairy tales referencing genres from screamo to math rock that never fail to give us the chills.
Omni Selassi – Sylvester Styln
Two drummers, one of them playing a synth, and a guitarist, that also sings. What a cool combo! Their rhythmic and percussive experimentation blew me away the first time I saw them in Berlin and the cool thing about Omni Selassi is, that their experimentation doesn’t get in the way of maintaining a melodic structure. Weird music that I can sing along too – love it!
The queer brass prodigy Bendik Giske uses circular breathing and polyryhthmic patterns that makes us wanna be part of a hidden vodoo clan. With only a saxophone as a weapon of choice it is hard to believe that it is only a singular human creating this wall of sound.
Words by Humans As Ornaments:
Between trance and overstimulation
The Option To Disappear is our debut album and was written over the course of almost two years. It marries the feelings of trance and overstimulation. Those are things that we experience a lot in our daily lives and within the music we admire. But they were never really something that we encountered right next to each other – so we tried to figure out ways to make them work together.
We have always liked extreme choices when it comes to songwriting, so we mashed those seemingly opposite moods. We believe that this is what keeps the music exciting and fresh. Always eager to catch you off guard.
However, The Option To Disappear also captures our love for pop music. For us this means that in spite of the unconventional song structures, vocals, flashy performances and melodical ideas still play a major role.
It is this world of opposites that you’ll especially find in songs like Re.cover. A track that molds catchy vocal lines with uncompromising screamo and blast beats with hip hop grooves.
We teamed up with production wizard Adam Lenox of Lingua Nada and Zouj, who helped us to finesse our sound. All instrumentals were performed live and mostly without click. It was essential for capturing the improvisational tempo changes that make up a lot of the record’s energy. It is one of those things that you barely even notice but instinctively feel.
At some point during the songwriting we decided to use a bass string as the lowest guitar string to get enough low end and make our songwriting more exciting. It has a distinct sound that is always slightly detuned and wobbly, providing an interesting texture to each chord. This was a technique we had seen a couple of times in local noise and math rock bands and just wanted to give our own spin.
Odd and captivating rhythms always seemed the most exciting to us in music. We try to use this approach and throw it a musical context that interprets the drums as a melodical counterpiece.
For our drum production we consciously decided to make the drums as direct and boomy as possible. We did this to capture a sound that sits right at the intersection of analog and sampled drums and creates a tension that seemed pleasantly novel to us. This also resulted from a challenge that we constantly face – sounding full as a two piece. So giving the drums enough space in our production was vital.
The importance of visuals
Our visuals are an integral part of our creative expression. We try to play around with ideas of self and identity in a way that seems fresh and exciting to us. Within that process we often discover new sides of ourselves. As two male artists we think it is important to question gender stereotypes and diversify masculine representations. At the same time we like to merge analog and digital media to create visuals that sit right at the intersection of the digital and physical self. Though heavily rooted in the DIY scene, we were never quite at ease with its aesthetics. We often feel like DIY spaces live under the illusion of subverting the mainstream by simply ignoring the importance of visuals. This attitude often leads to a neglect of otherwise meaningful ideas and projects. Even though we understand ourselves as a part of the DIY community, we don’t identify with things simply being ‘fucked up’. And we always felt – just because you do something DIY, doesn’t mean it can’t have a visual concept and actually look appealing.
Having such a history in the german underground music Dave and Dennis of Humans As Ornaments teamed up with Adam Lenox of Zouj & Lingua Nada to found the independent label and artist management platform Oddventure. With the intention to bundle resources and connect like minded artists Oddventure heads out to unify the unique and unheard voices of this network. With a clear message: Love has no genre.