As someone who came of age during the great dark wave era of the mid-to-late 2000s, I really appreciated my editor pointing me towards Chilean duo Humanfobia. After (admittedly brilliant) Ukrainian skate punk and demented music by furries; returning to my goth roots felt great.
Humanfobia’s latest release, Esoterika, is very strange and very satisfying. The long list of tags attached to it include: ‘dark experimental, ‘dark ambient,’ and, of course, ‘witch house.’ However, despite featuring many characteristics of witch house (including unicode titles), Esoterika isn’t as intense overall.
‘Ambient’ and ‘experimental’ are the ones to run with. One act I kept thinking about while listening to Esoterika were dark wave legends Black Tape For A Blue Girl. The latter’s style is defined by dark soundscapes and ethereal vocals. Humanfobia’s work is in this vein; though with a noticeably digital aesthetic.
“DƩlirium & H△llucinations” introduces Esoterika with a decent breakbeat, some interesting key lines and the distorted vocals which characterise singer Mist Spectra’s performance. If you’d prefer something a little more provocative, then “Gato Negro” will deliver. It builds on a relentless, pulsing beat; with samples of a (presumably black) cat wailing to amp up the creep factor.
“Høly Ritual” is the closest thing Esoterika has to a dance number. But it uses glitches and distortions to counter what melody there is, while providing some hypnotic flourishes here and there. As a song it’s a good representation of the album as a whole. It’s mysterious, inventive and just edgy enough to keep things interesting; without being overbearing.
The album (somehow) gets more abstract around “MΛgic Spells of Doom.” This was where I truly fell for Esoterika. It’s short but totally immersive; both in tone and in a more literal sense. Certain FX provoke a sense of true immersion – i.e. being underwater and drifting away. It’s unsettling, but soothing at the same time.
Esoterika is quality mood music for electro-goths both young and old. This probably says a lot about my age but – despite its modern polish – I appreciate how this album reminds me of a time when dark electronica seemed less…complicated. Obviously not in terms of composition or production; but rather in distinctions between style and sub-genres.
So it’s a big thumbs up from me. And Humanfobia have been prolific over the last few years, so I’m really looking forward to exploring their work in greater detail.
You can find Humanfobia here: