Thursday, February 16, 2012

SWAMP HORSE - Subtle Dementia, 2012

SWAMP HORSE (Husk Records, H#102) Subtle Dementia (2012) EP, Ltd. 100

Swamp Horse, the co-project of Josh Lay and Morgan Rankin, has gained a lot of recognition over the last couple of years. After a handful of superb, but now hard to find, cassette releases, they put out the brilliant "Perpetual Drip" (3" cd-r), one of my personal top ten of 2010. Their style of synth-drone noise sounds primal, yet unearthly, and just when you think you know them, Swamp Horse will defy expectation. Theirs is an enigmatic sound world, not locked into any kind of self imposed dogma, each new manifestation another facet of their combined, twisted visions.

This new 7" single, "Subtle Dementia", does not disappoint. Here Swamp Horse have created a bizarre little tribute to the horror soundtrack genre. A comparison has been made elsewhere to the group, Goblin, and I hear that, but where Goblin couldn't really reign in their dazzling prog-rock excesses, this minimalist thing is just black... and bleak. For me a better comparison is the Nekromantic soundtrack, or even Coil's "Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser".

Side one begins more synth than drone, with a repeating melodic pattern, the tension in the piece building through a repetitive process, with sustained notes wavering sickeningly, the track pulsing as more synthesized elements enter one after another, then a psych-guitar buzzing like some krautrock track minus the drums. Whereas side one seems to take as it's starting point the soundtrack music of 80's/90's horror films, the flip side is a different beast, starting at the point where sound effects become soundtrack. There is still a circular effect to the composition, samples/synthetics piling up, water sounds(?), voices(?),  indefinable sounds, the structure becoming more and more dense. Detached synth lines float through the mix, remark on it for a moment, then disappear until the next exclamation. A fantastic howling, rattling, wind-blown harbinger of terrifying events to come, like some scene from Fulci's "Gates Of Hell".  Although filmic, there is no pretense in these compositions of dramatic tension and release. It's ALL tension, NO release, in a perfect lo-fi mix that is compressed and claustrophobic. This bleak sound establishes, just as the title implies, a world where thoughts, or remembrances, are indistinct, out of focus, yet perched on the outskirts of some kind of dread comprehension. The same song playing over and over through a fog bank of mental deterioration, the sensations burying themselves in the ooze of decaying cerebral tissue, this is the sound of Swamp Horse trudging through your brain. You're gonna love it.

Limited edition of 100 copies on colored vinyl, this will sell out fast. GET IT HERE.

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