Dormansland – After Humanity (Review)

DormanslandThis is the debut album from Dormansland, a solo act from the UK.

Mixing doom, drone, shoegaze and industrial elements into its near-hour long playing time, After Humanity is a reflective and atmospheric work that’s not afraid to put the boot in when it needs to.

The songs on this release gain traction in the mind of the listener the more they are experienced, and are a combination of emotive, subtle affairs, with harsher industrial-edged themes. 

Like the content as a whole, the vocal performance is quite varied. Frequently we get clean vocals that are buried in the mix, straining against the fuzzy distortion of the guitars or the background ambience, but at other times we get starker shouting and other vocalisations that seem to burst out of the music.

This way the vocals don’t take pride of place as many vocal performances do, but rather work as yet another instrument that contributes to the effective layering of the music. This is true regardless of what they’re doing at any given time.

A danger of the shoegaze style is that it can become quite repetitive and samey; this is largely avoided here due to the industrial, Godflesh-esque influences that transform the base shoegaze into a different beast than that of the norm. In fact, that’s a pretty good starting point for this – imagine Godflesh’s cold, methodological nature mixed in with the emotive side of shoegaze, added to with some contemporary doom and drone influences – I hear something akin to A Storm of Light and Earth here and there.

Overall the songs are surprisingly varied and diverse, all within the framework that the artist has set for himself.

It’s quite easy to enjoy music like this as it slowly builds an experiential soundscape out of leftover emotions, increasingly textured atmospheres and the hard realities of industrialised beats. It reminds me of some of the more experimental indie releases from the late 90s/early 00s, mixed with an early Earache Records feel.

After Humanity is a very strong album that will likely pass most people by despite its wealth of engaging, emotive content. It has a very satisfying quality of workmanship to it that’s easy to overlook in today’s climate of instant gratification and next-big-thing-isms.

Highly recommended.

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