Half-Baked Taste: The Human Aftertaste, "Loose Ends" Print
Music - Feature Stories
Wednesday, 27 December 2006 03:29

Calling a CD Loose Ends is dangerous - with the implication that a band is emptying its junk drawer of songs - but for a local act that hasn't broken yet, it's downright lethal.

I had hoped that the third CD from Iowa City's Human Aftertaste would merely be misnamed, but Loose Ends is a perfectly appropriate title. There's an EP of good material on this collection, but at 45 minutes it's fatty and self-indulgent. Two versions of the cover "Goodbye Horses," a live track, and a mostly spoken-word piece drag it down, and much of the remainder is undistinguished.

The band has always been an acquired taste, with its cheeky Rocky Horror Picture Show shtick by way of shock rock with an emphasis on mocking, sexualized white-trash homo-anti-eroticism. But on previous recordings, particularly 2004's White Man's Voodoo, the band's techno-metal songcraft has shone despite valiant attempts to hide it behind the tired act.

On Loose Ends, though, the circus is nearly all there is. Human Aftertaste is undoubtedly more effective as a group experience than on CD; with its mishmash motifs, costumes, fake names, and aggressively outré manner, the band clearly aspires to give nightmares to the parents of teenage boys.

What Human Aftertaste has never understood is that its rude attempts at humor are neither funny nor shocking. The flouting of social convention by itself might seem clever or rebellious to those pimply boys, but there needs to be an intelligence behind it, and a purpose, for it to work for old farts such as me.

And the transgressive theatricality doesn't translate well to private listening. Loose Ends is dynamic in its textures and detailed in its production, but the hooks simply aren't there, and the joke gets old by the end of the first track.

"Gay Satanic Sex Orgy" is the best song on the album, brief and tasteless but with a propulsive punk-rock chorus and a wonderfully out-of-place outro that sounds like the chorus being played on a toy xylophone.

"Newer Blood" adds menace by compressing and muffling its guitar and drum sounds, and there's a straightforward fury that cuts through the band's crap.

But these are rare moments. As the ultra-crude, lounge-y performance piece "Pizza Man" drags on for more than seven unbearably juvenile minutes and then segues into an effective mimicry/mockery of an over-processed Cher on "Goodbye Horses," the cause is lost. Loose Ends has become an endurance test.

But I don't know that Human Aftertaste necessarily wants an audience. The band seems to seek notoriety more than anything else from the real world.

And given its recordings, the band's Web site, and the multimedia content both online and on the CDs, Human Aftertaste seems mostly concerned with its own amusement.


The Human Aftertaste will perform at a CD-release party at The Picador in Iowa City on January 27. For more information, visit (http://www.humanaftertaste.com ).

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