Horse Lords – The Common Task

Horse Lords – The Common Task

Cacophonous and hypnotic, the fast and interweaving beats of this Baltimore quartet are as thought provoking as they are undoubtedly unsettling, pushing musical boundaries and expounding a socialist outlook, both in a similar revolutionary manner to our very own Gnod.

After the first two numbers, which leave me disoriented and gasping for breath, Horse Lords take their foot off the gas for The Radiant City and the following “single”, People’s Park. The former is based on a sparsely synthed-up bagpipe tune, itself a surprise, and the latter is a tune introduced by a sudden descending synth line that sputters out, to be replaced by a repetitive synth beat with an African undercurrent, accompanied by subtle percussion. The effect is no less mesmerising than the unrelenting polyrhythmic microtonal headfuck over a 5/8 base that forms the opening track Fanfare For Effective Freedom, but somewhat less gut-churning, for which this old fecker is only too grateful!

The album has been building up to the epic-length closer Integral Accident, that creeps about under the floorboards, elongated notes moaning through the airwaves for a good seven minutes before a minimalistic guitar figure takes hold over a synthetic beat as the piece intensifies. The way the tune stretches and morphs over repetition is something fans of The Necks would appreciate, although here one suspects the looping is at least 50% electronic. Wordless vocals float around, adding to the air of febrile mystery.

This is a tricky album, as the sheer uncompromising nature of the first two numbers might put off those of a delicate sensibility from investigating further, for beneath those two opening salvos of arrhythmic curdling noise, there resides some very interesting music indeed. I would imagine that they are head-shatteringly loud as a live band (should we ever get the chance to witness gigs again), and make music that you feel as much as hear.

I can’t leave you without a quote from the delicious dollop of hyperbole that is the PR sheet:

“By using musical forms that point towards new ways of being, thinking, and organizing, by constantly re-evaluating assumptions and compositional systems, Horse Lords provide a model for society at large. By showing just how joyous it can be to imagine new futures and possibilities, by making us dance and howl with each tectonic shift, they show how dazzling the path towards utopia could be.”


01. Fanfare For Effective Freedom (7:22)
02. Against Gravity (7:49)
03. The Radiant City (3:04)
04. People’s Park (4:21)
05. Integral Accident (18:39)

Total Time – 41:18

Andrew Bernstein – Saxophone, Percussion
Max Eilbacher – Bass, Electronics
Owen Gardner – Guitar
Sam Haberman – Drums
~ With:
Duncan Moore – Bagpipes (on The Radiant City)
Ledah Finck – Violin (on Integral Accident)
Bonnie Lander – Voice (on Integral Accident)
Leo Svirsky – Accordion (on Integral Accident)
James Young – Bassoon (on Integral Accident)

Record Label: Northern Spy Records
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 13th March 2020

Horse Lords – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp