Locrian & Horseback - New Dominions LP

Great things were happening in New York in the eighties. Avant-garde composers players like Glenn Branca were paving the way for a new generation of rock bands to incorporate weird tunings and all sorts of other dissonant, droning noise into their music. Sonic Youth, fronted by Branca's student Thurston Moore, is perhaps the most well known band to come out of this "scene." They've been playing for decades and are still finding inventive and creative ways to manipulate sound, often to eargasmic results.

When I listen to this collaboration between Chicago's Locrian and Chapel Hill, North Carolina's Horseback, I am immediately reminded of Sonic Youth's seminal album from 1983, Confusion is Sex. I understand that many of the readers won't have any clue what I'm talking about, so I won't stretch the comparison, but as that Sonic Youth album opened up about a thousand different doors for me, as far as appreciating different styles of music is concerned, I can't help but mention it.

What Locrian and Horseback have created on this album, though reminiscent of that era, is entirely its own monster. The sonic palate may be the same, but the strokes and colors employed are without question darker, deeper, and more chaotic. The two are separated as well by the feeling that New Dominions (due out June 11th on Utech Records) is more about the journey than the destination. While Confusion is Sex felt a bit calculated and contrived, New Dominions gives off the vibe that while it is certainly taking us somewhere, neither the driver nor the passenger have any clue where that may be. The guitars test the very limits of what sounds they are capable of producing. The vocals are chaotic, fierce, and ambiguous on the first track, "The Gift", while they're much more controlled and certain on the near-14 minute "Our Epitaph." These two tracks tell the same tale, but in many ways feel like polar opposites of one another. The slow rhythm of "The Gift" allows the track to wander, while "Our Epitaph" has found at least some semblance of its way. Two sides of the same coin, if you will.

The journey is short, taking up one side of an LP (the flipside will feature a decorative etching), but that doesn't detract from the droned-out, disorienting vibe of this record; if you let it, New Dominions will get you lost; you will be in a world without order, without rules, and indeed without norms. And the best part of it is that you may not want to come back.

Keep your eyes on the Utech website; it should be available to order very soon. And if you feel so inclined, grab the old Sonic Youth album Confusion is Sex and listen to it back-to-back with New Dominions, and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

Todd said...

Looking forward to this release. Will have to break out my old SST copy of CIS and give your suggestion a try.