“…where you are is in between, a moment of nothing in the middle of a much greater movement. What happens next could be horrible...” Ian Maleney reviews New Dominions, the collaborative album from Horseback and Locrian.
Dread is a powerful feeling. On one hand, it’s all about subtlety and the idea of something not yet come to pass. You can’t give the game away or the fear will dissipate. Mystery is the home of dread, negative expectation and imagination of the unknown. It manifests throughout art in many different ways, from suspense horror films through to creepy dub reggae tracks disected and stripped of any warmth or love. Instead all you have is the echoes of memory, the feeling that where you are is in between, a moment of nothing in the middle of a much greater movement. What happens next could be horrible. Dread.
That skin-crawling sensation is the primary feeling in Locrian and Horseback‘s new collaborative album, New Dominions. The sonic references are early black metal, dark ambient and industrial. There is little in the way of standard rhythm here, rather a pulse is king. Extended passages of noise, feedback and distant loops develop on second track, ‘Our Epitaph‘, a 14-minute immersion into the netherworld. It barely moves at all after the seven minute mark, a blackened noise version of Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’ video.
‘Oblivion Eaters‘ is lighter in tone than its predecessor, though no less dense. The bright chords are frantically strummed and a black metal style vocal emerges through the tinny gauze, talking rather than screaming to be heard. ‘The Absence Of Light‘ is, as the title would suggest, darker again. The vocals take on a chant-like form, ringing out like medievil monks in a squat cathedral while cymbals crash around them and guitar noise swells, low and distorted. Dread is again key, the feeling of being between birth and death, concerned with the afterlife in the way that all sacred pursuits must be.
The final track is a remix of the first, ‘The Gift‘, by James Plotkin. Here the droning textures and lingering noise of the rest of the album is broken down into smaller pieces and built back up again in a new, more way. It feels more electronic, like some deranged anti-techno that never lets you dance. It suggests a continuation of the cycle, familiar parts reconsituted into something similar but different. Maybe all that dread is going nowhere, it just repeats in slightly different forms throughout life. No beginning and no end, nothing to be afraid of.