Monday, December 9, 2013

Pure Horsehair's new album, "Ambergris", not to be mistaken with the musician Ambergris, presents a musical range from wood cabin freak folk jams, early "Microphones" territory (before it was Mt. Errie) of blurry and harmonized vocals, psychedelic story-land underwater blues to a subtle, under played dedication to dark synthesizer melodies, drones and drum beats. This cassette is one of the most well executed and challenging I've heard in a while.

All the songs are understated downer bad trips but still highly organized, complex in structure and well orchestrated into quartet or trio parts. My guess these recordings were done with a four track? Phil Spector "wall of sound" influence is somewhere deep in here as various guitar tones, keyboards and unexpected harmonies bounce around. Good examples of this can be heard in "waxwing", and "first fig".

A big part of Ambergris's successful sound is his ability to utilize cold, synthetic keyboards and analog effects to feel warm like the humble, introspective acoustic guitars they are mixed with. The most anatomic Ambergris gets is on "high hopes", but then brilliantly the tone switches to some early late 60ties bad ass rock drawl in "as if". The drums are still 8-bit but it is hardly distracting jarring. It doesn't sound tacky like overly digital music. It is so precise in repetition however it becomes transcendental and meditative. And my god, these blues lyrics on this song are AMAZING. The singer's voice isn't distinctive like a Bob Dylan or Neil Young, but he has pipes and range. It is also a laid back but still authentically sad voice, which melts in very well the cassette's overall DIY casual typewriter aesthetic. This is a great tape.

The cassette only lists an e-mail: purehorsehair@gmail.com ... Pure Horsehair does have a bandcamp but his recordings sound far superior in tone on cassette over a Soundcloud. It's the difference salt can add to food.

--Jack Turnbull
www.jackturnbull.com

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