In our current climate of exponentially expanding micro-genres and sub-sub-niches, we're usually only a few mouse clicks away from finding or assigning a particular tag to any given musical artist. In instances when a group or solo musician seems to have hit upon a sound that hasn't already been neatly classified, it seems there's a whole host of anxious internetters just waiting to cobble together a set of hyphenated words to quickly solidify the identity of the unruly artist. Though both Pyramids and Horseback have existed now for what seems like eons by modern standards (you know, at least three or more years), astonishingly neither has been saddled with a lasting classification for the sounds they make. Whether this is due to their constantly shifting approach to compositional technique with each successive release, their fluctuating membership, or simply the fact that their not borrowing exclusively from any one source, it seems one thing is certain: both have succeeded in making music that is singularly their own, while also possessing a deeply affective humanity, initially alienating though it might appear.
Now that these two entities have combined forces for "A Throne Without a King", a new set of questions is raised in through its realization. Firstly, is it a split or a collaboration? Well, it's both - the album includes one new song from each individual group, as well as a long-form collaborative piece involving all personnel from Horseback and Pyramids playing together. Over the course of the three tracks that comprise the set the music ranges through territories of frenzied blasting, sonorous melody, arrhythmic clattering, frenetic riffing, frozen howls, and uneasy quiet. Horseback offers up the most recognizably structured piece of the three, a scabrous black metal weave, threaded through with a distinctly American twang. On their solo adventure Pyramids force together incongruent bits of hammering drum machine, screeching metallic textures and harmonious snippets of spacious piano into one implausibly seamless whole.
Strong as the preceding pieces are, it is the massive forty five minute collaborative piece that is really the centerpiece of the entire project - a sprawling mass of sonic moss, mud, concrete and galvanic crackle. Incorporating harsh electronics, buzzing swaths of guitar, low pulsing drones, improvised percussion and spectral voices issued from a distant universe, the "song" is a perfect synthesis of the diverse musical personalities involved in its creation. Though it could be inaptly described as any number wildly different types of music, like the parent groups that have channeled its chaotic essence into a tangible living form, it is a beast of unique nature - at once beguiling, terrifying and completely immersive. A more successful pairing of experimental-metal-drone-ambient-krautish-noise-rock collaborators you are unlikely to find, in our reality or any of its parallel relatives.
released January 24, 2012
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