By Scott Baker:
They have traveled to all 4 corners of the globe. They have seen things no mortal man should be forced to witness. Still they will not fade. HORSE the band is back with their newest brain-drilling album “Desperate Living”. The twelve tracks on the band’s fourth full-length venture once again prove the impressive versatility of the three mainstay members and the two “interchangeables” that are their bassist and drummer. The new album has the same old HORSE feel, but of course they’ve chosen to shake things up a bit. There’s a lot more of an ambient feeling within most of the songs, due to the long breaks placed intermittently to make room for a synth that sounds like something more likely to found in a David Bowie song than it would in a HORSE song. The same frantic gameboy-keying of Erik Engstrom (AKA Lord Gold) still remains, but it is few and far between compared to the likes of the band’s sophomore album “The Mechanical Hand”. Where there is said frantic keying, it is executed masterfully as in “The Failure Of All Things”. The band does use a slew of sampled sounds as they did on their previous effort “A Natural Death” except the sounds they use now are more blended with the music and don’t stand out as much as, say, a howling wolf. In the tradition of trying new things, HORSE also implements a small handful of guest appearances on the album. Jon Karel of The Number Twelve Looks Like You fame has a cameo in the form of a drum solo, the rapper K-SLAX makes a brief appearance on “HORSE the song”, the band’s close friend and occasional triangle player brings his talent to the table on the song (coincidentally about him) “Big Business”, not to mention several appearances by the man behind Xiu Xiu, Jamie Stewart. The band even managed to snag a guest appearance from the classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa on the track “Rape Escape”.
The album, good albeit, has its flaws however. Some of the vocal placement on the album seems awkward and forced and Nathan’s cadence is a little displeasing to the song from time to time. The joy of past HORSE albums was always that each instrument stood out on its own from the others, but this album seems to have driven the bass and drums into mere background beat, more than likely due to the constant shifting of members. All in all though, “Desperate Living” is another great album brought forth from the band you love to hate, HORSE the band.