Release DetailsLABEL Brutal Panda
RELEASED ON 4/3/2012
On the Eclipse
posted on 8/2012 By:
We live in an era of musical MadLibs, a wide open arena for any band to bring together [adjective] [genre] with [adjective] [genre]. So, it's a bit surprising the naturally fitting amalgamation of proggy, krauty psych with a blackened worldview featured on Horseback's tweener 7" On the Eclipse has been fused together so infrequently. At this point, it's not an element existing on the metal periodic table, even if it shares the same general end-goal of trance-inducing repetition. And, what does exist is usually sloppy, a silly excuse to cross a Bandcamp bet or pot-fueled prophecy off the list. That, or the influence resides so deeply, it's recognizable by PR mention only: "Hey, did you know these guys once brought an Ash Ra Temple/Emperor album to the Best Buy register before taking it back?" the subtext of an all-caps sales shout will read as you feel the claw of the label's Toy Grabber fumble for your wallet. Needless to say, it's rarely a clean split; it's an uneven load of timbres and spirit, the fractured flow akin to a wall-destroying wobble of a wild washing machine.
So, surprised squared: Not only does Horseback try its hand at the hybrid, it largely succeeds. On the Eclipse joins a handful who were able to blaze a trail while controlling the fire. Finally, we're blessed with a limited press that's not an unlistenable mess. It's definitely not something you're forced to sit through while your Nuggets nut of a coworker rolls a spliff in his station wagon, recounting the bio of Cromagnon like it's a Nurse With Wound List book report. Nor does it bruise one's ribs with constant know-what-I-mean, congratulatory nudges. Instead, it dips in a ladle and only removes the cream, giving us two sides walking the balance beam separating accessible, hooky tunes and the anything-goes experimentation practiced in the barnyard shadows by the current stream of Americana-obsessed outsider artists.
The opening title track's smoothly shifting sections form a wonderfully rootsy five minutes; all crackling campfires and flashlight-lit faces smeared with corpsepaint. Showing off its bones first, Horseback coaxes us into the fuzz with a foundation-building organ drone before kicking headlong into a distorted guitar, twisting a hypnotically repeating riff in the same rhythmic manner of Wooden Shjips's psilocybin-caked rocking chair. Soon, though, the grit washes away, passing the baton to a bright acoustic guitar erecting the track's four walls while a mellotron rolls on the wallpaper with subtly transforming two note legato pokes. When the blackened screech bubbles up, it's not quite as incongruous as one would think, nestling within the snug, analog production. It feels natural instead of a hastily sewed-on limb typical of a Franken-genre. It just fits, sounding completely logical in this setting, like a hair-raising scratch explained away as a tree branch rubbing against a windowpane or a house's creaks and groans casually chalked up to settling. But, that's the thing, the cut doesn't settle. Progressions pay off, instruments trade off (when you realize the bass has assumed the role previously filled by the organ, it's a nice peekaboo), and the energy never falls off. On paper, all signs point towards "On the Eclipse" being an earsore, but by streamlining its influences, by holding back far more than it flashes, it sits comfortably in its own skin. It's a worthy trade, restraint for stretch-marks, making the replay value unfamiliarly high even after one learns to navigate its turns with eyes closed.
And, amazingly, the same can be said for the ambient B-side. Having every right to be tossed-off, indulgent bullshit, it too dials down, showcasing a keen interest in creating something enjoyable rather than self-consciously aiming for prog porn. Put simply, it evokes the masters without desperately pandering for a pat on the back. It's classic, discrete Eno kept in a Can, sure, but by being a bit less, it ends up being a bit more. "Broken Orb" stretches across the record's grooves, a honeysuckle of tones crawling over wax walls, drinking up the rays of the rising sun. Independent drones tangle, pulling double duty as points of interest and solid supports. Underneath it all, percussion boils, a snare sauna radiating white heat, which might as well be the underlying theme of the single. Both tracks generate a cozy warmth, like sinking into a jacket on a fall day. It's Horseback's greatest trick: it's undeniably black, but it bundles up instead of letting capes fly. It's a burning lump of coal dropped in a snowbank, providing a place for LSD trippers and kvlt grimacers to fight off frostbite without shooting the other an ironically raised eyebrow or a wry smile. Needlessly to say quite the rarity and, all in all, if you're a fan of [adjective] [genre], worth your time.
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