Horseback's MILH IHVH

(Turgid Animal)

| October 28, 2009
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Jenks Miller's past releases, under his own name and as Horseback, have mined the utterly heavy and the quietly ambient. On MILH IHVH, his latest 7" as Horseback, he works to bend those poles until they touch. This pair of tracks—"MILH," meaning circumcision, and "IHVH" meaning God in the Hebrew analogue of acronyms, Notarikon—are noisy, textured mantras supported by subterranean black metal roots.

Both tracks, mournful, strangely serene blackened environs, are built simply: "MILH" is tethered to a four-note descent and matched with unchecked static feedback harmonically, so that it seems to spray and splash off the other tones like liquid steel being poured into a vat. It's coupled with Miller's disfigured yowl and a piercing guitar vibration that cloaks the harshness in a shimmering radiance. The aggregate is inert, cacophonous beauty that moves cautiously, if at all, for more than six minutes. "IHVH" works off a similar text, with less shimmer thanks to a thumping bass drum planted centrally in the mix. The mid-level pounding disappears into outwardly fanning guitars. As the song barrels into its dénouement, heavier tones peel away to reveal a resourceful engine—coarse, wavy guitar lines phasing in and out, emerging from behind a propeller and mimicking the track's initial throb. The effect here, and throughout, isn't dissimilar to Tim Hecker's "Zen intense melody": exhausting, repetitive magnificence. It's just that, lately, Horseback's hypnotic catharsis is delivered through a veneer of beautifully black muck.

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