Freeform Human – Arnika (Giiwa)

Posted in Reviews 2009 by - July 20, 2009


As new distribution models and whatnot go, Freeform Human are so ahead of the curve that they’ve radio’d us and warned us about road conditions ahead. Or something.

If you’re not familar with the well-documented creation process , the ethos behind this album is worth catching up on. The CD is limited to 999 individually hand-painted and numbered copies, something that’ll appeal to the collectors among us. This alone is a masterstroke; scarcity attracts fetishistic music junkies like nothing else, and if all 999 sell (which I’d personally hedge a small wager on happening, not that I am a gambling man) then it’s surely going to do better than this summer’s higher-profile releases like Hujaboy and Commercial Hippies.

So plus one point for the DIY approach.

It’s also plus another point for taking care of digital consumers (bywhich I mean consumers of digital, not consumers who are digital – thatwould be silly, although when we all reach spontaneous singularity in 2012 I’m sure it will seem rather more normal.)

The CD is essentially an hour-long 142bpm synced mix, which scores another plus point: Freeform Human realise that people who buy an album want an album, not so much a series of tracks that are laid out like individual experiences. If you want to DJ individual tracks, digital packs are available, giving scope for CDJ warriors who need something more DJ-friendly.

The ultimate bonus point is the free availability of  a twenty-minute mixed preview of the album from the band’s website. This is a masterstroke; get the free version, and trust me you will want to hear more.

Musically, it’s fun. That’s the simplest way to digest it. There are plenty of changes, plenty of tasty drops, plenty of surprises.If Giiwa’s previousoutput has been at 8 or a 9 on the wiggy, far-out, borderline-”Suomi” scale then this probably sits at a 6, making it more palatable for casual listeners.

You can slap it on when mates drop round for a syrupy chai or whatever. It’s good to drive to. It’s great on headphones. Live instrumentation fits in neatly, and the result is seldom forced. There is a vocoder, but I expect it’s sort of taking the piss. Disco, funk, Goa and breaks are all evident, and when it all comes together on the final section you’re left feeling that you’ve witnessed something extremely clever indeed.

Psyreviews is probably best known, slightly unfairly I often think, for dishing out vitriole at bigger acts. Something that seldom happens these days is coming across a release that’s so damn indie, so damn homebrewed, so damn fresh and so damn different that it’s very much a privilege so be associated, in whatever small part, with the little subsection of the media that can highlight its virtues.

I love everything about this release. The timeliness of the music, appearing as it does before a backdrop of formularity on one side and increasingly dull progressive on the other, is significant. The stoic acceptance ofretail behaviour, coupled with an innovative approach to promotion, creation and dissemination, is also significant. And this is to say nothing of the cohesion of live and visual elements with electronic music, something that we all need in this day and age of DeadAct and general “lively” laptop nonsense.

Whether you look at it from the perspective of a record collector, of a supporter of mom-n-pop industries, of a supporter of sensible industry behaviour, or of a supporter of fun and challenging music, Arnika is worth checking out.



This post was written by psyreviews