Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Best Albums of 2011 #6 Red Horse - Red Horse (Type)

Red Horse - the duo of multi-perucsionist Eli Keszler and guitarist Steve Pyne - put out their second self-titled LP in 2011 and it was far and away one one of the most intense albums released that year. Type records calls it "blistering free-post-everything" and that's quite apt. Hyperkinetic, unrelenting splatters of percussion spill out over enormous walls of squalling feedback at ear bleeding volumes. Enormous electrified string sculptures, sequenced reclaimed speakers, frantic motors, bowed crotales, metal and strings, guitar and microphones, even, apparently, banjo: all are put to use crafting massive, cacophonous mechanical soundscapes. Of course, you'd be hard pressed to pick most of those things out of the torrents of noise these guys make. One of the coolest things about Red Horse is an adherence to the mechanical. Pretty much everything you hear on this record is captured live with no knob twiddling to speak of. It's noise in the real, pure sense of the word, unfiltered and untreated by laptops or pedal boards roughly the size of football fields. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, it's just that Red Horse deserves some serious kudos for creating something so visceral, so ear splittingly, gut punchingly intense, without going to more traditional (and, I would argue, easier) route of processing their sound to death.

There's been some talk of the "punk spirit" of Red Horse. That too feels apt. There's a freewheeling, no-hold-barred energy and a totally DIY approach - most of their instruments and devices are reclaimed or modified or made from scratch - to their music. But at the same time Red Horse surpasses your standard noise group. There's more of the avant-garde to this record, a level of exploration unheard of from most other groups out there. This is one of those records that works perfectly on vinyl as well. Put it on, crank up the volume in your headphones as loud as you can handle it, and listen closely. There's tons to hear beneath the shrieking surface. Just when you're about to be fully, irrevocably swept away by this torrent of noise, side A will spin out and you'll have a few moments of respite before plunging - all too willingly - into the pummelling depths of side B.

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