Human Feel — Party Favor [EP] (self-released, 2016)
I’m one of those people who mourns the things lost in the digital age of music — things like record-store bin-digging. But one of the advantages of the digital age is the ability to release songs in small handfuls. You no longer have to amass an album’s worth of material before having something to say. Weird Al Yankovic, for instance, has talked about eschewing albums in favor of just releasing singles from now on. And yes, I just cited Weird Al in a context serious enough to include the word “eschewing.”
Human Feel is one of those treasures of the New York “Downtown” era, a quartet driven by quirky composing, tetherless improvising, and Jim Black‘s sometimes thundering drums. They’re still around, but all four members have their own careers as bandleaders, which must make group efforts difficult. They managed to record and tour a few years ago, but how often is that going to really happen?
Maybe the answer is to do as much as you can whenever you can. Party Favor is a three-track EP. Back in the ’90s, we would have called it a CD single. Nice new dose of music without having to wait for a full album.
“Alar Vome,” a title that has a very Andrew d’Angelo feel to it, is an emotional anthem, slowish and big. “Eon Hit” is a catchy ditty with the horns in tight harmony and a light, pattering rhythm. And “Half-Bassed” is an exploration in low, crystalline tones that eventually bursts into slow-motion ragged glory.
If Party Favor isn’t enough of a Human Feel fix, there are three unreleased live tracks available for listening on Soundcloud, posted by saxophonist Chris Speed to the Skirl Records account. They’re worth a listen not only for the avant-jazz goodness in general, but also to hear Kurt Rosenwinkle in full freak-out mode. Observe: