In the world of atmospheric, haunting, ambient, and experimental music, Horseback
are two projects that act as true landmarks for the drone genre. Horseback
formed in 2006 from North
Carolina, led by musical master Jenks Miller. From dark masterpieces such as “Forbidden
Planet” to the peaceful atmospheres generated from “Impale Golden Horn
,” the project’s diversity, experimentation, and versatility make them a truly spectacular musical force. Locrian
, a trio gathering in 2005 from Illinois, has also crafted a masterful collection of drone tunes that evoke horror and awe upon the listener. “The Crystal World” and “The Clearing” are specific examples of this collaboration, and they serve the greatest hits out of this collection. In 2011, Horseback
joined forces to make a 7” split on Turgid Animal Records. Now they have returned in 2012
to create a second split record entitled “New Dominions.” Released first on Utech Records and then re-released on Relapse Records with additional tracks, this split album is one that is out to showcase the duo’s darkest corners.
constructs the first half of the album (before the re-issue). It starts its slow and tragic march with some chilling sounds, with effects such as ghostly echoes and footsteps. However, the further the song goes, the more it builds up. After about a couple of minutes, the song continues with a simple drum pattern and a light and peacefully-toned guitar track. Along with that, Jenks Miller’s black metal snarls muffle in the background, thus creating more darkness for the music. Other ghostly effects make their entrance into the song as well as it goes along, giving it more haunting build-up. What makes this song truly special is its great sense of progression as it continues, allowing it to sustain very nice depth to its shaded soundscape. The song starts off as a ghastly and even unsettling sound-driven ambience and then gracefully ascends from the abyss into a bright yet desolate drone track. As a result, not only is this song very meditative and dark, but it demonstrates smooth progression in even the bleakest of ambient music. In their segment, Horseback
once again does what the band does best: Create dusk and transcendent dreamscapes that both stimulates and evolves.
produces the second fraction of “New Dominions” with a haunting tone that matches Horseback
’s segment, making way for good flow in the record. Luckily for this trio, darkness is what they have always dwelled in during their past works, especially in their most stellar effort “The Crystal World.” Unlike Horseback
, however, Locrian
proceeds to cover their fourteen-minute track with gloomy drone almost all the way from head to toe. Soon afterwards, the trio starts to tread down its chilling path with a slow and simple drum beat accompanied with a quiet guitar tune and easy yet gloomy keyboard playing. The biggest highlights of this song, however, are the swooning vocals, armed with resonance and austerely dark and raw energy. They pile up more chilling atmosphere to the music throughout, and it plays very much in their favor. Unfortunately, the problem with this song is the woefully noticeable lack of memorable build-up. The only thing that progresses this song further as it goes along is the distorted static noise in the background that increases in volume from the middle of the track, but it does little to build up the song. Therefore, the track could easily become very repetitive and stale to the listener as it goes along. Nonetheless, Locrian
has put up a nice and passively terrifying segment to this split piece.
“New Dominions” is a well-crafted collaboration of two very profound drone projects. Horseback
unveil their bleakest sides in this album, and it makes for a hauntingly great musical work. Horseback
dug back into their black metal roots to generate a finely dark masterpiece with nice instrumentation and buildup; it was as peaceful as it was unsettling. Locrian
also did a very satisfying job of drawing forth shadowed and echoing landscapes to invoke a meditative fear upon their listeners. Their weak spot for that track, sadly, was its bland execution of building up and establishing more depth to the music with mere volume. Even so, however, it’s a nicely done work. Even the spectacular album artwork emits the same creative appeal as the music itself. While “New Dominions” is most certainly not for everyone, it is highly recommended for anyone looking for some creeping, atmospheric, cold, and ambient tunes. It’s the type of music that is great for both relaxation and serving as an eerie soundtrack to a haunted house or a foggy cemetery. “New Dominions” reaches and grasps the peaceful and ghastly side of the drone coin, and it proves once again that Horseback
can collaborate to invoke the same unique darkness in their own different ways.