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Favorite ThisHuman Agency: Ancient Chemistry Album Review

Published: August 16, 2011

by Natty Morrison

Ancient ChemistryIt may be unapparent, at first, but electronic music is pretty cliquey. More and more, dance music producers are being defined (both externally and internally) by category, as opposed to individual style. Listeners know what dubstep sounds like, or electro, or house; so when a new act comes out it’s easier to classify the artist based on genre, not individual creation. While listeners could afford to be more discerning, much of the blame falls on the musicians. It’s rare to find DJs making music that really says anything new. It’s like watching everyone scrambling to get to the right table in the lunchroom; after a while they all start to look like the same chubby kid holding two cartons of chocolate milk.

That’s why it’s so refreshing when a group like Human Agency stands up and says “Fuck this, I’ll eat outside.”

Rising out of the burgeoning Colorado beat-music scene, Human Agency is a musical collective comprised of DJ/Producer Biorhythm (Ryan Kjos) and MC/Producer Dialogue (Seamus Moore). The duo grounds itself in beat music and organic samples, but never fears to venture outside of the genre’s comfort zones. It’s both hypnotic and explosive; relaxed and full of nerves. Some people might call that a paradox; I’d just call it Ancient Chemistry, the group’s newest album.

Kicking off with a lush acoustic arrangement, the album opener “Hustling Souls” sets up the disc’s lulled pace nicely. Soft strings and modest sequencers push their way to the foreground as a gravelly voice murmurs, “I will just sit here, and let it take me away.” And away you go. Chemistry is nothing if not an album of travel, both through sounds and feel. “Amen” takes a simple guitar arpeggio, mixes equal parts eastern music and beat music to create an enveloping and fascinating soundscape. “Billy” is a woozy hip-hop track with plenty of heart to spare. It’s easy to make Pretty Lights comparisons, but in reality, it’s nowhere near as glitchy or bass-ed out. In a lot of ways, the album is devoid of all dance music clichés. You won’t find any bass blasts or hands-in-the-air crescendos here. This is the music of deep thought, of daydreams and contemplation. And that’s truly the album’s saving grace. While many producers are concerned with adhering to genre boundaries, Human Agency doesn’t put much stock in titles. They’re too busy making true art.

Ancient Chemistry never really breaks the fever pitch, but that’s not the point anyway. This wasn’t intended to be your everyday dance music; this was intended to be your everyday great album. And on this new record, Human Agency finds a way to pull it off.

Ancient Chemistry is available for FREE download at