Horse Lords - The Common Task - Album Review by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture - Picture by Audrey Gatewood

Horse Lords, The Common Task (Northern Spy Records) – ALBUM REVIEW #18

When we first heard about Horse Lords and their forthcoming album The Common Task, we read the following lines :

Horse Lords make music for the liberation of mind and body.

Five listenings later (and counting), we are really happy to confirm that these words weren’t a form of overstatement.

Let us insist: The Common Task is not disposable experimental music which would have novelty for only emotional value. Andrew Bernstein, Max Eilbacher, Owen Gardner and Sam Haberman delivered a confident, textured, introspective album. Let’s see how.

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Horse Lords, The Common Task: our review

Sophisticated and communicatively fun

With YouTube channels like the ones managed by Adam Neely and Rick Beato, the comprehension of sophisticated music is on the rise. These channels taught their audience that sophistication doesn’t equal boredom, and The Common Task is a perfect illustration of that trend. Hard work and musical research put aside, even the unmindful listener will feel that Horse Lords had a lot of fun composing and recording tracks like Fanfare for Effective Freedom and People’s Park (music video below). 

In short, The Common Task combines the musicianship of Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and the playfulness of Brian Wilson‘s Smile project.

An energetic panorama of feelings

Energy is what also characterizes this album. The fact that Horse Lords’ music is essentially repetitive enables the listener to design its own experience. This is passive empowerment at its best.

Having listened to the album in various situations and under the influence of different moods, we can affirm that The Common Task is a piece that is mainly shaped by the listener’s perception. Like any great piece of art, The Common Task is an open proposition.

Horse Lords - Band picture by Audrey Gatewood
Courtesy of Audrey Gatewood

Rich textures, happy accidents

Let’s be clear: these five tracks have nothing to hide, but everything to reveal. Agreeable out-of-context surprises bloom as the tracks go by, and no mistakes nor unmastered movements are rendered as wrongfully aesthetic (something we discussed with Janaki’s Palace a few days ago).

Serendipity might be the happy cause of some turns and directions, but never the ugly is mistaken for potential avant-garde novelty. Integral accident, the B-Side, is not to be missed on that matter.

Horse Lords, The Common Task, out on March 13, 2020.

Tracklist

1. Fanfare for Effective Freedom
2. Against Gravity
3. The Radiant City
4. People’s Park
5. Integral Accident

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Written by  Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture

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