I Break Horses – The Prophet (single from forthcoming album)
It is no surprise to learn that I Break Horses have supported the likes of M83 and Sigur Rós on tour. Between the two of them (Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck) they generate a depth of sound that is very much in the same class as that of their much better-known peers.
Their new (third, and first since 2014) album ‘Warnings’ is due for release on 8th May via Bella Union, and having previously shared videos for 'Death Engine', 'I'll Be The Death Of You', and ‘Neon Lights’, I Break Horses now share a fourth track, ‘The Prophet’ from this anticipated LP, one which tells of how a misfit gets to be a prophet and to preach to the faithful masses. I wonder if they had anyone in mind. “It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.” Too true.
Maria Lindén’s emphasis on this album has been on instrumental, cinematic music and she worked by watching a collection of favourite films on her computer with the sound muted and made her own soundtrack sketches, the sonic workouts gradually evolving into something more.
Movie soundtracks use all sorts of traditional and non-traditional instruments and Lindén hasn’t scrimped on her selection here: mellotrons, loops, and analogue synths, together with layered lyrics. They also brought in U.S. producer/mixing engineer Chris Coady, whose graceful way with dense sound (credits include Beach House and TV on the Radio) was one reason Lindén invited him to mix the album, apart from his ability to slow tracks down without losing any impetus.
The musical production is undeniably powerful from beginning to end with organ and synths well to the fore. Indeed the organ is almost as potent as Anna von Hausswolff’s, and the song will attack your goose bumps in much the same way M83 does. The only negative observation I would make is that it is perhaps a little too powerful, consistently, to the point where the whispered lyrics are sucked into it and the message is lost. I only caught about half the lyrical content.
There are a number of top class bands/artists in Sweden of this sort, producing this variety of high quality layered music, which are lower on the radar than they should be. NONONO, Wildhart, and the Goth, Memoria, for example. I’d put I Break Horses firmly into that category and the forthcoming album could well be their making in the UK.
‘Warnings’ is due for release on 8th May 2020 via Bella Union.