(2020) Horse Lords - The Common Task
Baltimore quartet Horse Lords play a complex, polyrhythmic form of music that incorporates just intonation, algorithmic composition, and microtonal harmonies. Instead of being a purely academic exercise, however, the group apply these techniques to sprawling, groove-heavy instrumental rock songs, equally influenced by Krautrock and Saharan desert blues as well as composers like Terry Riley and James Tenney. The Common Task is their fourth studio album, and it’s easily their most vibrant, dazzling recorded effort to date. From the get-go, the band launch into a stilted, interlocked rhythmic pattern that boggles the mind yet is easy to follow, and it just accelerates from there. The Lords exuberantly cycle through the sections of their compositions, stretching out the rhythms without letting a sequence linger for too long, and doubling down on crunchy riffs and glimmering harmonies. “Against Gravity” showcases Andrew Bernstein’s saxophone playing, beginning with a drone before playing hopscotch with the rhythm. The saxophone gradually lifts off, multiplies, and becomes scattered around the beat, while the music becomes more ecstatic, eventually beaming up into space courtesy of Max Eilbacher’s synthesizer. The more concise “People’s Park” features a heavier dose of electronics, which bounce and scatter throughout the song’s reggaetón-inspired beat. The remainder of the album is taken up by the ambitious “Integral Accident,” which starts out unusually still for a Horse Lords piece, taking up more than seven minutes of soft, wordless vocals and electronic rustling before a rhythm emerges, followed by delicious interplay between guitar, saxophone, and violins. Before long, we’re swept away into a joyous, stepping rhythm and circular handclaps, finally concluding with another mind-warping synth abduction. Horse Lords make music for liberation, celebration, and revolution, and The Common Task is a prime example of their all-encompassing vision.
Genre: experimental, post-rock, world
Format/Info: Free Lossless Audio Codec, 16-bit PCM
Bit rate mode: Variable
Channel(s): 2 channels
Sampling rate: 44.1 KHz
Bit depth: 16 bits