Horseback - The Invisible Mountain
Now two discs old as a project by North Carolina multi-instrumentalist Jenks Miller, Horseback is quietly carving out a singular space in a gothic metal ambient swamp, similar in spirit if not sound with a band like 16 Horsepower. "The Invisible Mountain" is dark, powerful and full of shadows that seem familiar, but have new unpredictable curves and shapes. This is often intense, sometimes creepy, and never less than fascinating.
"Invokation" opens the four song set with a minimal riff, a drone equally alt-country and slowed to a crawl Ministry, accompanied by some growling that actually takes away from the song's obvious power. That one riff is ominous and full of dark colors that a pure instrumental track would have highlighted better.
While "Tyrant Symmetry," structurally and vocally, is more of the same, the hypnotic power of "The Invisible Mountain" leaps out at you. Again a variation on a single riff, here Miller evokes both Husker Du and shoegazing in a raw but lyrical explosion. Second guitarist Scott Endres, along with drummer john Crouch, add understated and, ultimately, unnecessary accompaniment.
The closer is a sixteen minute "Hatecloud Dissolving into Nothing," which would have been monumental at about nine. Ambient drones mix with dramatic guitar weaves, which echo some of the noise of earlier tracks. It slowly slowly slowy builds to an odd ambient climax better suited for a prog effort. It doesn't sum up this record so much as offers a long mint for anyone busted too hard in the gut by the other three tracks.
Horseback was seemingly intended to be mysterious, gritty and haunting, and it is. "The Invisible Mountain" is another strong, enigmatic missive from the corner of the woods inhabited by Jenks Miller, a corner at the crossroads between The Birthday Party and Cormac McCarthy.
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