The Horseback story begins in Chapel Hill in 2006, as a project of the band’s current mastermind, Jenks Miller. The band’s first release, “Impale Golden Horn”, received more than positive feedback in 2007 and was described as “the best drone record of the year”, being more melodic and accessible than most noise records and filtering in their own special way their obvious Merzbow influences. Their next full length, “The invisible Mountain” that came out in 2010, was warmly embraced by the underground circles, before being picked up by Relapse Records and finally gaining the acknowledgement they deserved. “The invisible Mountain” was followed by a number of splits with Vortigeurs, Locrian, and Pyramids. And thus we end up in 2012 with “Half Blood”. That’s the essential bio for a band you need to know.

Starting from the grabbing cover, created by the Russian artist Denis Forkas Kostromitin, who’s a frequent Horseback collaborator, the record’s pictorial section equals the music’s quality, as Horseback continue their effort to bridge 70’s psychedelic with the modern extreme, with an extravagant, daring experimental musical attitude. “Half Blood” balances between country and noise, blues and ambient, black metal vocaling and kraut-rock in a so damn beautiful way that makes the album’s 43 minutes seem too short in length.

Minimal riffing and steady paced drumming compose almost the first half of the record, a half intercepted by a horror-film oriented ambient break (“Inheritance”). The cathartic repetition of haunting melodies is expressed in real triumph through the following masterpiece, “Arjuna”, which ends the first half of the record, giving its way to the “Hallucigenia”, a kraut-ambient-noise experimental trilogy. From the organic ambient fields of “Hermetic Gifts” with the chthonic vocals, to the tensed, anxious, 70’s psychedelic-meets-drone “Spiritual Junk” and finally the noisy laid kraut opus “The Emerald Tablet” Horseback give their aspect and proposition on complete, multi-influenced and modern extreme music.

Horseback are still working on their formula on bridging music genres and times, creating music that takes you in and keeps you there. And maybe they’ll keep it on. As long as their experiments create such works, I really don’t care. Neither should you.

Check also: Merzbow – Merzbeat, Neurosis – Through Silver In Blood

Track List Line Up
01. Mithras
02. Ahriman
03. Inheritance (The Changeling)
04. Arjuna
05. Hallucigenia I: Hermetic Gifts
06. Hallucigenia II: Spiritual Junk
07. Hallucigenia III: The Emerald Tablet
Jenks Miller – vocal, electric guitar, piano, bass,
lap steel, ebow, keyboard, synthesizer,
tanpura, shruti box, drums, percussion, processing, fuzz fx
Session Artists:
Heather McEntire – vocal
Aaron Smithers – bass, french horn
Jon Mackey – laptop computer
Scott Endres – guitar
John Crouch – drums
Bradley Cook – bass, laptop computer
Joe Westerlund – drums, percussion
Phil Cook – melodica
Dave Cantwell – drums, percussion
Crowmeat Bob – sax, clarinet
James Wallace – drums, organ
Bryce Eiman – electronics