Since their 2009 debut, the duo of Peter Ricq and Robbie Slade, a.k.a. Humans, has delivered electronica that is as meaningful as it is danceable. On their new EP Water Water, Humans seldom speak. When they do, their voices ring out from a static-saturated otherside, rippling across a sea of drum patterns and trickles of synth that make the 15 minutes of Water Water pass in an instant of refreshing electronic bliss. But Water Water is sometimes a bit too smooth for its own good. Even as an EP, Water Water is less of of a musical main course and more of an ambient hors d’oeuvre, and we’re left hungry for more of what we know Humans can put on the table.
The EP opens with a 9-minute sprawling title track. Despite the length, it’s a surprisingly regular chunk of sound. The song opens with a clapping, steady drum pattern that is only interrupted by the wobbling of a baseline and an ethereal sing-song chant. There’s a lot to be said for the simplistic perfection, musically and lyrically, of a track like “Water Water”— but there’s not much to be said for why the track sprawls on for a whopping 9 minutes. After the first set of bass-heavy trembles and a few minutes of that undying drum pattern, we’re ready to move on. If anything, the radio edit, attached to the end of the EP, better shows Humans’ gift for delivering both quality and concision.
“Bout Chu,” the only other track on the EP, follows the flow of “Water Water”, but punctuates a weirder percussion pattern with a set of spectral synths. Instead of the baseline that accentuates the first track, a clanging percussion peppers the song, making it feel a bit like a club hit and a bit like a horror soundtrack. Either way, it’s a transportive little number that shows off Humans’ capacity for knowing how — and when not — to make noise.
Altogether, Humans maintain a minimalistic distance from their tracks, using a small arsenal of sounds and silence to create ambient and incredibly smooth songs. But Humans shine best when they have a chance to break out that arsenal to its fullest potential. Water Water’s limited size as an EP means limited chances for Humans to shake up their routine, and the small sampling of sound doesn’t satisfy like a full-length Humans release.