I will confess that when I first saw the title X: The Human Condition cross my desk and also saw that music was involved, I pictured some sort of Exene Cervenka/John Doe tribute project.
Heck, I even had a momentary glitch in my thought processes and thought this might be some Andy Partridge/XTC kind of gig, though I'll also confess I'd never known either the band X or the band XTC to be particularly charitable endeavors.
So, um, yeah. My initial impression was way wrong.
Truthfully, though, it's really hard, maybe even impossible, to actually describe what X: The Human Condition really is. I knew, however, I was in for something different when the project's director, Michael Nova, included some rather warm, sincere words about my own background and life experiences.
Nova himself describes X: The Human Condition as a distant cousin to Pink Floyd's The Wall, a rather perfect place to begin sharing my own experience having witnessed the 40-minute multimedia project that weaves together atmospheric, immersive music with visuals that are jarring, enveloping, connecting, and deeply, deeply felt. It's an unusual project, I suppose one could say, yet it's also an irresistible one that draws you in and practically bear hugs you into its charms.
X: The Human Condition is less about performance and more about experience, a sort of anthemic experience that has, indeed, become the signature anthem for the non-profit website RiseUpEight.org. Nova, and subsequently X: The Human Condition, cares deeply about the human condition and the lack of connectedness that seems to have arisen out of a world where digital relationships seem to have replaced actual human encounters. With a mission to connect, essentially musically and dramatically letting people know that they're not alone, Nova has crafted a full-on sensory experience that is intelligent, thoughtful, emotionally resonant, and almost stunning in what I would call universal intimacy.
“If it is the child within us that creates connection, friendship, and love, then what must we do to create that again?”
Much of X: The Human Condition delves into what it means to connect and perhaps, just perhaps, how we've lost that ability and what we can actually do to get it back. The project isn't necessarily going to resonate with everyone, its dewy-eyed new romanticism perhaps a bit too melancholy for some but others, myself are included, will likely find themselves turning off all the lights in the house, lighting a candle, swaying to the music and surrendering to both the words and the images as they manifest.
It's a trip. Let me tell ya.
While you can experience the project as either CD or DVD, the truth is it's difficult to imagine one existing without the other. These are clearly meant to be two intertwining experiences and you lose part of those experiences only choosing one or the other. The music itself is absolutely sublime, while the accompanying visuals are so rich and mesmerizing that you'll likely find yourself reaching the end of the project and wanting to watch it all over again.
Ultimately, X: The Human Experience is meant to elicit a response and there's little doubt that Nova intends that response to be one of conversation, dialogue, human connection, and reaching out. It's a project meant to combat isolation and loneliness, especially the kind of loneliness that festers and eats away at the mind and any semblance of hope.
Amidst all this goth-tinged romanticism? Nova's willing to dance within the darkness.
He hopes you will too.
For more information on the project, visit its official website and be sure to check out everything going on with RiseUpEight. There's so much more going on here than I could ever possibly capture in a review, but X: The Human Condition is an ambitious, raw, transparent, honest, and boldly ambitious project that deserves your attention.
Now then, I'm going to go back and watch it again.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic