Don’t be surprised if you listen to this disc and mistake it early on for a Tangerine Dream tribute CD. Fact is, Steve Humphries, recording as Create, proudly wears his influence on his sleeve and makes a workable Berlin-style go of it on We Live by the Machines. Ripe with familiarity, the six tracks here stomp along in their analog-based boots, sticking to well-trodden EM paths. We Live… is something of a hit-and-miss affair for me. Create starts fairly strong with the 23-minute “Portal,” but could have shaved off a good half of that to keep the piece from becoming repetitious. The essence is there–bedrock-firm sequencer lines holding up Humphries’ free-form playing–but there’s a lack of dynamic movement in it that grows a little wearisome. It’s not that I’m expecting seismic shifts, but in two listens either I became quite inattentive, or I never detected even a subtle tempo change or any perceptible alteration in the backdrop and he lost me. I find myself getting cut equally adrift during the other 20-minute-plus affair, “Search and Rescue”–which again starts quite strong but never feels like it aspires to more. Between the two are pieces that call older electronic music to mind without entirely capturing its potency. Humphries hits it dead-on, however, with the atmospheric and grim “Somewhere in the Distance.” Forgoing the TD vibe and instead curling edgy sounds up out of his gear, he melts together the most engaging voyage here–and it may be saying something that it’s also the shortest.
Analog fans may want to give this one a listen, but We Live by the Machines is more intent than execution.
Available from Groove Unlimited.