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It's been a long and varied journey for the Posthuman pairing of cousins Richard Bevan and Joshu Doherty. Since debuting in 2001 with releases for the likes of Skam's ultra-collectable Smak sub-label and putting on a range of cutting edge parties in London, they have covered a lot of (under)ground. Initially occupying a space somewhere between abstract electronica and off-kilter electro, their last effort The Peoples Republic was something of an introspective downtempo epic, employing guest artists of wide renown to create a richly emotional palette of sound. It takes only the opening seconds of Syn Emergence to realise this is far from being more of the same. Opener Brickhead is a brassy, ballsy number straight from the off, espousing a fighty dancefloor attitude that permeates much of the album — distant memories of acoustic instruments are instantly crushed underfoot.
Why the sudden change? The early 90s-sampled stabs and sub-basses of Eruder and Crone offer big clues. I don't know about Bevan, but Doherty has certainly taken something from his time as the man behind pop-rave mashup merchants AGT Rave Cru and decided to instill it within Posthuman. But this album is not a hardcore throwback, indeed there's barely a breakbeat to mention. Instead it seems focused on a slightly different time and place, somewhere rather moodier where relentlessly hard 4/4 kicks pummelled sweaty stompers into submission. There's very little uplifting about the album — perhaps not surprising when two of the eight tracks contain the sampled mantra 'assisted suicide'...
The only criticism I have of Syn Emergence is that unlike previous Posthuman full-lengths, this one doesn't really feel cohesive, partly because it's too relentless to offer itself up for serious home listening time. If it weren't for the ridiculously extravagant package (double picture disc vinyl in a gatefold UV varnished picture sleeve with an embedded cd anyone...? Yep, thought so!) this would have probably worked much better as a pair of twelves aimed at the DJ fraternity. Having said that, Stockholm Syndrome (Part 1) fuses dubstep with rave powered Brit-tech of the highest calibre and the closer Se Ces One (a good 15bpm slower than the rest of the tracks here), shows the kind of smacked-out deep groove the cousins are capable of when they put the hammer down and pick up a subtler tool — it is also by far the albums' finest moment. With the super lush packaging and artwork (Bevan's intricate graphics are a thing of true beauty), as a physical item it is downright irresistable. You owe it to your record collection to check it out.