Two years back Mark Sherry had his humanity questioned. Nobody – least of all he – could have known it’d trip off his first artist album. Clicking a captcha to ‘confirm’ his ‘humanity’ was an innocuous, seemingly fleeting moment. Everything that followed that, well, markedly less so. Over the following minutes, hours, days & weeks he returned to the question with ever-increasing interest.
“In hindsight, says the Scottish producer, it was a bit of a lightning bolt moment. It got me thinking, ‘wow, we've actually reached the point in civilisation where we have to identify ourselves as a person, not a machine, and – to of all things – a machine!’ If someone told me when I was 10, I’d have to do that, it would’ve truly blown my mind. Really, as I see it now, in this life any eventuality’s possible.”
As an album began to crystallise around the ‘Confirm Humanity’ question, its significance appeared to take on numerous other forms, not least social, cultural & existential ones. To Mark, it moved from being a seed to a metaphor and onto a motif – eventually developing into a refrain for life in the modern world.
Throughout its studio development, Mark sourced a litany of elements that chimed with ‘Confirm Reality’s central theme. Some overt, some nuanced and others Easter egged and for the sharpest ears only, within its fabric they make for an album which transmits both music & meaning. Through tracks like ‘The End Is The Beginning’, ‘Triquetra’, ‘Method To My Madness’ and ‘I’m Not A Robot’, Mark even poses some questions of his own.
In this debut album quest, Mark’s been flanked by a cadre of co-producers from his Outburst Records universe and beyond. Richard Durand, David Forbes, Tempo Giusto, Vlind, Mallorca Lee and others joined him in the studio, ultimately assisting in the serving of 18 desk-fresh tracks. It also involved the remixing of legends like Tiësto and the vocal talents of Marcella Woods, Christina Novelli & others, sitting thought-provoking songs amongst its floor roasting instrumentals.
“The future as we know it is over” speculates the introductory crawl for ‘The End Is The Beginning’ and with it Mark and long-time studio sparring partner Mallorca Lee deliver the fiercest of precedents for the album. From there, well you know better than to expect any breathers from Captain Outburst! In solo mode comes the vociferous statement of ‘I’m Not A Robot’, whilst ‘Method To My Madness’ shakes the system further – posing provocative questions of its own. “What are people gonna think in another 4 years?” ask Mark & Tiempo Giusto on ‘Celestial Body’, whilst ‘Chopperchunk 2.0’ (alongside the UK’s Joey V) charges up the batteries for some pitch, warp & distorted tech-tenaciousness.
The LP’s vanguard singles (‘Confirm Humanity’ and the Christina Novelli-sung ‘Lighting Fires’) bookend the vociferous ‘Triquetra’. For those not acquainted with Netflix’s Dark series, ‘Triquetra’ (“the point where past, present & future meet in the middle”) takes its cues from an end-to-end gamut of tech-trance’s history. Framed by hunting horns and marching beats, Mark also reserves LP space for an epic, truly night-seizing escalation of Tiësto classic ‘Carpe Noctum’. The rolling groove & uplifting feel of ‘Luminosity Curve’ preface further vocal clusters on the album. Clare Stagg brings her beguilingly folk-edged inflection to ‘Poison Apple’, whilst legendary trance singer Marcella Woods touches new emotional heights on ‘Can’t Live Without Your Love’.
As the album begins its third and final act, ‘Confirm Humanity’s sonic stance toughens palpably again. In floor-striking form, ‘Yerba Del Diablo’ reunites Mark with fellow countryman (and trance legend) David Forbes. ‘Follow Me’ meanwhile sees him collaborating with original creators Spacefrog & Derb to revisit the underground German classic. In similar fashion – under his and Scot Project’s Gentech alias – ‘Feel My Love’ ups the quirk ante, while the Ross Ferguson-sung/Vlind-coproduced ‘Alone’ adds a final vocally elevating kiss-off to the piece.
Confirm Humanity by Mark Sherry – tracklist:
01. The End Is The Beginning (with Mallorca Lee)
02. Chopperchunk 2.0 (with Joey V)
03. I’m Not A Robot
04. Celestial Body (with Tempo Giusto)
05. Method To My Madness
06. Tiësto – Carpe Noctum (Mark Sherry Remix)
07. Lighting Fires (with Christina Novelli)
09. Confirm Humanity
10. Luminosity Curve
11. Cosmic Dawn (with Richard Durand)
12. Can’t Live Without Your Love (with Marcella Woods)
13. Poison Apple (with Clare Stagg)
14. Yerba Del Diablo (with David Forbes)
15. Follow Me (meets Space Frog & Derb)
16. Gentech – Feel My Love
17. Alone (with Vlind featuring Ross Ferguson)