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Published: 2006/01/12
by Jesse Jarnow

SelfTitled- No Use For Humans


Theoretically, there's another band like the Flaming Lips out there somewhere, who will toil in local weirdness, and gradually — over 20 years — work their way from completely outsider obscurity into the national consciousness. Assuming they exist, what do they sound like now? Almost certainly, they don't resemble anything like what's currently commercially popular. And almost more certainly, they probably don't sound like anything like what's presently hip.

There's a great chance, of course, that No Use For Humans' future won't resemble the Lips' present in the least — but that doesn't mean (musically, anyway) that they don't mirror the early stages of life of Oklahoma City's favorite freaks. Which isn't to say that No Use For Humans sound at all like the Flaming Lips — because that would be tasteful and would disqualify them — but there’s clearly something there that’s absent from a lot of other bands of their young age.

On the group's recent self-titled album (they have a few previous demos and full-length CD-Rs circulating, too), they prove themselves steeped in the maximalist tradition — though not in a theatrical wanky way, and not in a jamband way, either. The music is almost all synthesized. If there's anything acoustic present, it just sounds like a really good imitation. Right away, this encases the music in its own world that can suck a listener right in.

"Jihad" burbles on a surprising beat, ambient guitar shredding on a distant station while faux-marimbas clang beneath vocalist Alicia Testa. A new addition since last time out, her performances are assured, though tend to ground the music in a sort of trip-hop mode.("Spirit," "The Mission"). In places, though — midway through the industrially stomping "Nothing," for example — she adds just the right amount of color. The vocals also push the band in a more thoroughly prog-rock direction.

So, whatever will happen to No Use For Humans will happen, and everything that's happening now is happening now, which isn't too bad at all, and there are many probable uses for No Use For Humans. Perhaps you will find one.

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