Album Review: The Human Experience ft. Rising Appalachia – Soul Visions
The Human Experience, an artist I’ve come to know much about recently, will be releasing a new album on Monday, featuring sisters Leah and Chloe Smith of Rising Appalachia. The album is called Soul Visions, and, upon listening, truly resonates as the vision of three creative souls collaborating to produce something highly elevated.
David Block, the mind behind The Human Experience, is a classically trained, multi-instrumentalist who has applied his deep understanding of music to his work as an electronic producer. He is not limited by genres, however; his music combines various world sounds (he has been continuously traveling the world for several years) to create something incredibly unique and moving.
Block first met the duo of Rising Appalachia in India in 2008. Since then, they have reconnected to record this eclectic masterpiece. The sisters lend their roots influence to the album in very recognizable ways—two of the tracks are traditional Appalachian songs. The serene quality of their voices, reminding me almost of nautical sirens, brings a strong feminine balance to Block’s electronic masculinity—a seamless symphony of yin and yang.
The album begins with “Swoon,” a lover’s ballad that immediately demonstrates the trio’s ability to blend seemingly conflicting sounds into something wholly mesmerizing and completely distinct. An acoustic version of the same rounds out the tracklist, setting most of the lyrics aside to allow for total immersion into the beauty of the strings.
“Pretty Little Foot,” one of the album’s traditional Appalachian pieces, has been revamped with a gypsy sound, featuring a mandolin. It is a dancer’s dream. The sisters croon, “Who’s gonna shoe your pretty little foot? Who’s gonna glove your hand? Who’s gonna kiss your red ruby lips? Who’s gonna be your man?” and answer with, “I don’t need no man.”
The more upbeat “Downtown” follows, blending Leah and Chloe’s sweet voices, hand drums, muted trumpet, and other world sounds to create a new tribal sound unlike anything I’ve heard before. They sing, “Walk with me, walk with me, baby come on and talk with me, talk with me. Come on and take me downtown,” inviting us out for a sultry night of dancing and conversation.
The album is seven tracks in full; I’ll leave you to discover the three remaining. Soul Visions will be available on bandcamp.com for your listening and downloading pleasure starting June 17th. The trio’s version of “Sunu,” a traditional African song, has already been released there. As someone with a personal connection to Appalachia and a great love for electronic music, I would not recommend ignoring this one. From The Human Experience’s bio: “We don’t play music, music plays us.”
Watch this documentary on The Human Experience to learn more about his musical history, influences, and future plans.
Thandiwe Ogbonna is a music writer gone rogue. Check out her blog, and connect on Facebook and Twitter.
Top image: Art by Ryan Johnson
Photo: The Human Experience at Wakarusa