Human Greed was established in 1998 by Scottish writer Michael Begg.
“It is something to do with narrative. It is wordless. But there are words everywhere. The sound of engines, of water, of feedback and synthesis… they are all honest voices. Voices telling sad stories of truth, of dismay. But that’s not to say the whole project is willfully negative. On the contrary, Human Greed strives for delicate beauty and should hit the listener sweet as nostalgia. Is this my wine?”
Begg was joined a year later by Deryk Thomas, the visual artist whose burning bunnies became an iconic reference point for Michael Gira’s SWANS White Light/Love of Life period.
“Yes, it is the musical investigation of a writer and a painter, but that’s ok. All musicians are something else. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be very good.”
The pair have, over 8 years and 3 full length recordings (see below) developed and refined a technique encompassing abstract electronica, field recordings, manipulated samples, and, increasingly – and most noticeably in their most recent album, Black Hill: Midnight at the Blighted Star - acoustic instrumentation. The Human Greed sound has been described as “Arvo Part conducting Metal Machine Music.” The contrary coupling of austere, devotional minimalism with unhinged, often savage sonic assault is strangely apt.
Human Greed released Consolation, in 2001.
A second album, Pilgrim: New World Homestead (2006) was the first official release on Begg’s own Omnempathy label.
A third album, Black Hill: Midnight at the Blighted Star was released by Lumberton Trading Co. in November 2008.
With the release of Human Greed’s 3rd CD, Black Hill: Midnight at the Blighted Star it would seem that more and more people are indeed coming to identify with the bleak, mournful drones, unsettling swells and squalls, and unfettered sonic outbursts that typify the Human Greed sound. Guest performers appearing on the recording include Julia Kent (Antony & the Johnsons), David Tibet (Current 93), Fabrizio Palumbo (Larsen) and Clodagh Simonds (Fovea Hex, with whom Begg also plays and records).
Black Hill: Midnight at the Blighted Star reviews
“Black Hill occupies a realm that is somewhere between the gorgeous drones of Stars of the Lid and the haunting and solemn “Symphony No. 3” by Henryk Górecki. This is powerful stuff and takes a while to fully digest it. The oily darkness that the music conjures up gets deeper and deeper with every listen, a resonant and otherworldly tremor that is at once human and sublime.”
PILGRIM: New World Homestead reviews
“This is night music, which ripples with your deepest and darkest doubts… Human Greed have managed to conjure up a chilling collection of audio nightmares that calls the listener back again and again to discover more layers of sonic creepiness”
Rock a Rolla
“serious and overwhelming”[...] “a hostile environment of latent violence”
Trinta de Fevereiro
“Taking atmospheric, menacing ambience to heady new depths… to create an atmosphere which could enswathe the grimmest of David Lynch’s filmic output”
“As fitting a drama of nervous exploration and discovery, there is wonder and dread in equal measure here: Part dream, part nightmare, Pilgrim’s hypnotic call inevitably lures the listener into treacherous waters before plunging them into fatal depths”
“A Fear filled symphony of terrors… that gradually entwines your imagination in its numerous sonic tentacles and refuses to relinquish its grip.”
Edwin Pouncey, The Wire
“…a dark delight full of Stygian soundscapes”
“A master class in claustrophobic paranoia.”
“Secures a place for Human Greed in the echelons of melancholic experimentalism”.
“Requires the patience of a saint”
“Disquieting as it is exceptional… Brutally honest, enlightening and remarkable”