Reuben Sawyer is nothing if not prolific. He’s also a man of many talents – his various projects have included the coldwave sounds of The Column, Hollow Sunshine’s blown-out psych-noise, Anytime Cowboy’s take on countrified weirdo-pop, and even ambient house courtesy of Rose. Oh, and he’s a visual artist too, of course. Pfft, who needs an attention span anyway?
One thing he’s also dabbled in, however, is post-punk. Human Trophy is firmly in line with that tradition, but pulling from multiple directions at once – one minute this album rattles along like Big Black with the tempo down and the textures dialled up, the next we’re firmly in Christian Death territory. The twisting guitar lines and pummelling bass of ‘Forming Horrors’ even call to mind his blackened punk project Dry Insides, but with less velocity and a helluva lot more menace.
Is ‘Corpse Dream’ a goth record? Possibly. Whether goth is a lifestyle choice for Sawyer or not, he’s certainly adept at immersing himself in sounds and making them feel like a comfortable fit. As with all his projects, it feels like another effortless facet of Reuben Sawyer – and in keeping with the rest of his output, it’s absolutely packed with songs you’ll wanna play again and again. Penultimate track ‘The Roads’ is built on a none-more gloomy pile-up of darkly portentous rhythms and a firm sense of disquiet, but once you’re locked into its circular riffage you’ll feel an urge to keep the loop going endlessly. Then there’s the closer ‘Blood Apex’, a dual-vocal nightmare set to music which draws you back in even as it attempts to push you away. Yeah, it’s pretty great.
Who knows where Sawyer’s restless muse will take him next – he’s spoken before of wanting longevity from The Column, before unveiling another ludicrous number of projects. Maybe there’ll be more from Human Trophy, maybe he’ll decide it’s high time for a sludge project or start delving into glitched-out techno. All seem possible (and likely). But if this is the only record we get under this name, at least it’s 100% solid gold.