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Horseback: A Plague of Knowing

When I review things by Jenks Miller, I tend to comment (perhaps too much) on my previous encounters with his music. I can't help it: Miller's music makes me reflect, not only on other albums by Horseback, but also on his other projects generally. I think I like them, but I don't always know how to put my finger on why. I was especially fond of his album Spirit Signal from earlier this year, finding his guitar ability to be both impressive and creative, an eclectic offering from a unique musician. In my view, everyone should check out something by Miller at some point, if only to find out what else is going on in the underground musical scene.

A Plague of Knowing is really a collection of all kinds of things from Horseback: live material, demos, vinyl-only exclusives, unreleased songs, stuff like that. It comes in a three CD set, but is limited to 2000 copies. It also includes a Horseback sticker. Fans will easily want this release, if only to make sure their collection is up to date.

I can't tell offhand how the first two discs are split up. There are 23 tracks total (from the first two discs) and they are of varying length. The third CD is "A Plague of Knowing" only, a 40 minute track that captures quite effectively what Horseback is trying to do musically. I liked it, but it takes a certain amount of patience to get through it. This is minimal music, the kind that develops very slowly over a long period of time. I don't know to what extent Miller is influenced by musicians like Steve Reich and Philip Glass, but they must be lurking somewhere in the background here. The key to minimalism is the slow development, the repetition of ideas, the highlighting of musical structure. When it works, it works really well. Unfortunately, it can also frustrate some listeners, especially those who don't want music to experiment beyond a certain level. Interested readers should definitely listen to "A Plague of Knowing" so they can see just what Miller is up to when writing longer work. Those less inclined to go through all 40 minutes of it, should check out the other two discs, highlighting tracks like "On the Eclipse," "TV Eye," "North Star Struck," and the different versions of "Do You Have a True Feeling?"

Not everyone will like what they hear, but I think fans of underground music, especially the kind that explores new sonic possibilities, should at least check out Horseback. I have heard a great deal of their music over the last couple of years and find it simultaneously fascinating and challenging. I've never claimed it to be my favorite style of heavy music, nor even of minimalistic and droning music. Nevertheless, I find myself occasionally drawn to its hypnotic pull, its slow and minimal approach to sound, its overall moodiness. Like him or hate him, Miller certainly makes an impression.

Track Listing:
1. On the Eclipse
2. High Ashen Slab
3. Another World
4. Heathen Earth
7. Thee Cult of Henry Flynt
8. Oblivion Eaters
9. Broken Orb
10. TV Eye (Live)
11. Stolen Fire
12. Murdered
13. Retribution
14. Do You Have a True Feeling (Plagued Version)
15. Luciferian Theme
16. North Star Struck (Plagued Version)
17. Transparency (Murdered Again)
18. Blood Loop
19. Clattering Info Aggregators
20. Recite
21. Do You Have a True Feeling (Stolen Fire Version)
22. North Star Struck (Destroyed Demo Version)
23. Impale Golden Live
24. A Plague of Knowing

Added: December 7th 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1573
Language: english

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