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 V.22 No.1 | January 3 - 9, 2013 

Sonic Reducer

Baltimore-based Horse Lords are about as danceable as experimental music wants to get. Despite their avant-garde influences and obvious noise skills, Andrew Bernstein, Max Eilbacher, Owen Gardner and Sam Haberman manage to settle into a krautrock-like groove that lets their complicated structures congeal and channel their way to your hips. Horse Lord’s self-titled debut album on Ehse Records is comprised of merely two tracks, but it’s two long tracks moving like long tracks should: evolving and layering with reference to earlier moments, enough to let you know how far the piece has traveled before it moves in a new unexpected direction. (Peter Mezensky)

Beau Devereaux is my synth hunk du jour, but I think I can still be objective about Samantha Glass’ newest release. It’s arranged as five movements and will sate every Vangelis craving you’ll ever have. At certain junctures, this work almost veers into musique concrète territory, but the influence of goth and post-punk keep it from seeming academic. The drum machine’s emanations somehow feel humid and organic. The synthetic melodies remind one that moonlight can illuminate space in as striking a manner as any old mass of incandescent gas. If you can manage it, listen to this in an abandoned lodge in the midst of the dark and deep woods. (Samantha Anne Carrillo)

This ambitious release by Chris Schoen is darkly beautiful and morose. All the involved musicians are very talented, and the work itself calls on the tropes of 19th century folk music. Schoen conjures elaborate, sometimes modal, folk melodies around Baudelaire’s poems, but his vocal dreariness obscures the color, tone and cadence of the modernist poet’s work. That distance is only increased by the (necessary) translation from French. I was excited to listen to this release, because Ruth White’s 1969 electronic setting of Flowers of Evil is one of my favorite albums, but Schoen’s work is too dour and jerky to truly succeed on its merit. But I love the concept. (Samantha Anne Carrillo)

 
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