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Horse Lords pursue a collective trance with superbly infectious results on Comradely Objects

"Comradely Objects"

Release date: 04 November 2022
Horse Lords comradely objects cover
24 November 2022, 00:00 Written by Janne Oinonen

Microtonality, complex counterpoint, avant-garde composition, free jazz.

Some of the erudite terms that can legitimately be used to describe the goings-on during Comradely Objects bring to mind ear-testing visions of experimental music at its least inviting. Which makes the driving energy and infectious joy that pulsates through the album all the more thrilling.

According to Horse Lords, the title Comradely Objects relates to the central ethos of Russian Constructivist design. Instead of focusing on feeding the artist’s own ego, Constructivists emphasised objects that promote collective, egalitarian ideals and goals. The reference is uncommonly apt. Cooked up during the shut-down days of the pandemic which allowed the instrumental four-piece from Baltimore (now largely relocated to Germany) previously unimaginable expanses of time to hone and map out their experimental, improvisational approach to composition and playing, Comradely Objects sounds less like the work of four individuals jostling for their turn in the spotlight than one finely engineered, utilitarian rhythm and riff machine chugging along with unstoppable momentum towards its goal of a joyful collective trance.

The resulting cross-fertilisation of avant-rock, electronic music and the more academically abstract ends of experimental music bridges the gap between sweaty clubs and polished halls for ‘serious’ music with rarely seen aplomb. Opener “Zero Degree Machine” is built on a minimally shifting, impossibly intricate counterpoint melodies in a challenging time signature, but the track also undeniably rocks as it builds into a fearsome gallop that is not entirely unrelated to the best of Battles. “May Brigade” sets out to out-chaos Captain Beefheart’s abstract landmark Trout Mask Replica with its caterwauling riffs and discordant horn squeaks, but the restlessly pulsating energy of the performance replaces the chin-stroking over-intellectualising that usually goes with this territory with pure sweaty abandon.

Horse Lords fare even more impressively with the minimalism that sets in during the second half of the album. The 10-minute epic “Law of Movement” starts with a doom-laden drone that brings to mind the sound-sculpting of, say, Craven Faults, before blooming into a majestic totem for hypnotic levitation akin to Can dabbling in the electronic music techniques they went on to influence. Perhaps best of all, “Rundling” finds the band circling around a simple motif that resembles like-minded cult heroes 75 Dollar Bill soundtracking a strange dance ceremony under a blazing desert sun.

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