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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Horseback's back: two releases, approaches, premieres

Posted by on Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Never content to stick to any one sound for too long, Jenks Miller—returning to his Horseback alias—has announced two new releases.

click to enlarge Horseback takes a darker approach, both sonically and visually.
  • Horseback takes a darker approach, both sonically and visually.

Neither sound at all like his masterful debut, Impale Golden Horn. Yes, for all you keeping track at home on your handy little conflict-of-interest scorecards, that was released by Miller's Holidays For Quince label and Burly Time Records, the label formerly run in part by Indy music editor Grayson Currin. Nor do these two releases find their soul in the meandering guitar approach that was last year's Approaching The Invisible Mountain, released under the name Jenks Miller. But, as has become custom for Miller, the slow pacing, thoughtful construction and sonic weight remain.

The first of the two, a 7-inch vinyl platter called MILH IHVH, will be released by Turgid Animal this Spring. The label features catalog releases from noise luminaries including Skullflower and Prurient.

Miller announced the release on Facebook yesterday, calling MILH IHVH a "7" record comprised of two blackened noise mantras, themselves based on the Notaricon MI IOLH LNV HShMILH." The song's steady, percussive bludgeon is buried beneath churning, near-static guitars. The piece moves like a glacier, devastatingly slow as it traverses the harsh landscape. It's a far cry from the dense but soothing atmospherics of Horseback's debut, but it still seems to reside within the same spectrum. Miller's voice, distorted to a fuzzy, inhuman wail, becomes a prominent textural element, coaxing the piece along its six-and-a-half minute duration. As the dense guitar fuzz begins to lift, tremulous melodic passages emerge, Miller's voice drawing them forth as if by incantation.

click to enlarge Jenks Miller gets ready for two new Horseback records.
  • Jenks Miller gets ready for two new Horseback records.

Miller's second release of 2009 will be his second Horseback LP, The Invisible Mountain (finally reaching the one he was still approaching last year, one assumes ... or is it a different invisible mountain? Can you know a mountain is a certain invisible mountain if you cannot see it?). Horseback's The Invisible Mountain evokes Earth's dirt-encrusted sludge, droning and trudging through muck-thick riffs and eventually reaching glorious crescendos. The new full-length is slated for a Summer release via Utech Records (Skullflower, Nadja).

And again, we find Miller using his voice as a textural element—a similar croaking, sinister timbre to the one introduced on MILH IHVH. But to compare early demos of The Invisible Mountain to its predecessors (the forthcoming seven-inch and last year's solo record), it bears none of the stark brittleness of MILH IHVH, nor the spare, solitary, serpentine nature of Approaching. Here, Miller enlists the aid of Scott Endres (*SONS, Suntan), John Crouch (Caltrop) and Jon Mackey (Sweater Weather, Bells) to supplement the sound.

And full it is: The Invisible Mountain is a daunting, epic monument in the making, as evidenced by two early mixes of "Invokation" and "Tyrant Symmetry." Keys chime and guitars chug. Drums tumble and cymbals clatter. But the tumult feels grounded and internalized. This quest, after all, is one of self-discovery, something Miller has noted in interviews.

Miller's a master of the cathartic crescendo, ever able to build and recede and build again to new heights. The promise of these early cuts is that The Invisible Mountain is likely to be fantastic.

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