by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
The words "The Human Fly" conjure up a lot of mental images, most of which are hilarious, others merely intriguing. New York-via-Virginia's The Human Fly aka Robert Mathis' music isn't exactly hilarious, but its pretty damn intriguing. Gruesome, due out this November via Invertebrate, is his second album, a record that comes five years in the making thanks to studio failures and a bout of emotional detachment. The record is a battle of natural beauty and rural addiction, balancing open spaces with heartfelt struggle. The sentiment is matched in the record's instrumentation on lead single "Shenandoah".
Opening with a swampy and hesitant banjo, The Human Fly sets the scene "Shenandoah you're so bad for me, cooking rabbits and amphetamines," his voice winding with the sweeping melody. Alt-country and dusty outlaw folk phrasings are blended together, pulling a darkness from the sunshine, like a shadow stretching over the mountains. It's a gorgeous song of acoustics, swirling synths, warped banjo and Mathis' yearning vocals, and just when it's all come together, it falls apart, tumbling downward into its graceful crescendo.
Speaking about the song, Mathis shared:
""The songs of Gruesome focus on a specific frame of mind while I lived in Virginia, and 'Shenandoah' dwells largely in the more desolate underbelly of those days. There was a lot of suffering in the community I resided in; amateur meth lab explosions were not uncommon, and neither were vast expanses of sprawl servicing cheap, unhealthy food. I developed a near-constant series of bizarre illnesses and slipped into a monotonous routine that left me barely able to recognize myself, hence the inception of the song.
When we first sat down to record it, it began as a fast-paced, Lonesome Crowded West-style romp. But as years went by, I read texts like Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild and gained perspective on how the things I was experiencing came to be, which influenced how I saw the song. In turn, we slowed down the tempo, sucked some of the manic energy out of it, and colored it with a more sinister palette of instruments. We realized we weren't telling the story of a rapid decline, but one that's more drawn-out, lethargic, and cruel.”
The Human Fly's Gruesome is out November 17th via Invertebrate Records.