Horseback started back in 2004 and is the brainchild of Jenks Miller and was originally a solo project, but has since become various incarnations of a variety of players. With influences ranging from Swans, Tony Conrad, Junior Kimbrough and Neil Young, Horseback’s sound harks back to the golden era of Prog, in that; it contains musical passages in stark contrast with each other melded to form one overpowering piece but without losing any of the post-rock/ambient vibes. Perhaps though the key to Jenks’ distinct creation are his influences, as far ranging from the aforementioned bands to his love for the dark beauty of ambient/drone to the excesses of extreme metal. The outcome is something very trippy indeed, half way between a horror movie score and a stoner rock or metal album.
Half Blood, released in May on Relapse is admittedly one of the most emotionally challenging discs I have ever endured. The album’s excellence is not restricted, from the feel and flow of the record to its technical brilliance Miller shows a real improvement on an already quite astounding back catalogue. The record is a triumph in all departments, well written songs and thoughtful output brim with both finesse and experimentation alike.
The album grasps the listener from the off with the gentle swirling guitars and harsh black metal vocals of Mithras, alluding to, but by no means mirroring Kvelertak. This contrast is once again displayed on the third track Arjuna where three quarters of the way through, seemingly out of nowhere springs a massive Genesis/King Crimson inspired vocal passage with lyrics referring to a serpent’s tongue! All very 70s monged out Prog:
It’s the drone aspects of this recording that really get me though. The hauntingly dark elements within the soundscapes and instrumentals peel off nicely from deep post-rock riffs and screeching vocals. It’s all in the flow. The aptly named tracks and second half of the album ‘Hallucigenia parts I, II and III’ exemplify this idea whilst concluding the album with a degree of psychedelic closure.
The whole thing is kind of a harrowing juxtaposition of the alluring and the barbaric. The listening experience leaves you debilitated, yet encouraged.