More of a project than a band, revolving around the prolific Jenks Miller, drone outfit Horseback follow up their debut album The Invisible Mountain with this collection of two contrasting releases: Impale Golden Horn, previously released as a solo record by Miller in 2007, and Forbidden Planet, which, rather bizarrely, was released on cassette-only in 2010 (please don't tell me cassettes are making a comeback!)
Whilst both releases fit the 'drone' template, they occupy very different territory in terms of mood and ambience. The first four tracks comprise Impale Golden Horn and exude a shimmering, uplifting feel. Layers of lush, harmonic feedback mingle with simple but effective keys and psychedelic guitar work to create an atmospheric sound in which you can lose yourself. Pieces like the opening "Finale" may change little and imperceptibly over the course of their 17-odd minutes, but they exert a hypnotic effect. "Blood Fountain" is the nearest Horseback come to conventional melodies, and incorporates some inoffensive vocals, but even here you'd be hard pressed to call it a 'song' in the usual sense of the word.
The mood changes significantly from the first note of "Veil of Maya (The Lamb Takes The Lion)". The material comprising Forgotten Planet is much darker in tone, comprising harsh, abrasive walls of sound over which are layered distorted black metal-style vocals. The shimmering textures from the earlier pieces aren't entirely discarded, but they are well hidden. With these pieces I found the repetition less appealing, but there's no doubt this material has a forceful impact on the listener. Only the short last track, the spacey "Introducing Blind Angels", shows any let-up in the intensity, but by then those of a more delicate disposition would have run screaming from the room.
Overall, drone fans will definitely feel well served by these two contrasting sets; once again Relapse has shown its at the forefront of the field when it comes to releasing quality ambient music which has the potential to appeal to a broad range of fans across different genres.
2. The Golden Horn
3. Laughing Celestial Architect
4. Blood Fountain
5. Veil of Maya (The Lamb Takes The Lion)
6. A High Ashen Breeze (Part 1)
7. A High Ashen Breeze (Part 2)
8. Alabaster Shithouse
9. A High Ashen Breeze (Part 3)
10. Introducing Blind Angels