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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Record Review – Red Horses Of The Snow


RED HORSES OF THE SNOW
Territories
Flashback CD/LP
www.flashback.co.uk

The inaugural release by this London duo also introduces us to the new imprint from the Islington store of the same name. Mark Burgess and Chris Hawtin have crafted a melancholic, shoegazing masterpiece, full of lush arrangements, endearing hooks, and swaying melodies, all buoyed by heartfelt vocals and intelligent lyrics that Hawtin describes as “geographical de-territorialisation – the contraction of real space in the age of technological acceleration.” In other words, it deals a lot with alienation in the 21st century!


The romantic soundscapes of vintage Red House Painters are the most obvious influences on these dreamy post-psychedelic love songs. Opener ‘Airborne’ floats into the room with all the warmth of a prodigal son returning from far off lands, bearing gifts and stories of amorous adventures, while ‘Siam’ hints at the proggy ruminations of Japan. Delicate synth swashes cascade over ‘From The Air’ and the production throughout is as crystal clear as that frosty mountain stream glistening in the winter sun on the Hawtin-designed cover. There’s also a nostalgic reminder of the bedsitter folk stylings of Nick Drake aficionado Scott Appel on the winsome tearjerker, ‘Screens’ and the lengthy closer ‘The Love Song of Howard Hughes’ splashes some glitchy, Depeche Mode-styled synth across an expansive lament of lost love and self-exploration anchored by the key lyric, “I travelled the world around and found, in truth, I never left.” Ponder the existential implications of that one as you enjoy this fabulous release from a promising new label (and artist) to look forward to for years to come.
Jeff Penczak

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