I am massively overdue writing up the few words that I promised some time ago on Dark Dark Horses first album Centuries. It is due for release here in the UK in June (maybe?) after having been released last year in Japan for some obscure reason (if your Japanese is up to it you can get it through Rallye Label). Another band from the Leicester area to sit alongside Maybeshewill, parts of Her Name Is Calla, To Bury a Ghost, Minaars and the rest, there is clearly something in the water over there. Jamie Ward of Maybeshewill (whose rather splendid album Critical Distance was review here not too long ago) and Kyte and James Stafford of kids in cars have come together here to produce a rather chilled and beautiful album.
I have never thought myself much into electronically tinged stuff but have had to reappraise my position of late what with stuff like James Blake, Gang Gang Dance, Jamie Woon, not to mention some of the above-mentioned bands.
To start with the drum machines and keyboards prepared me for something that didn’t materialise; I was all ready for something rather chilly and impersonal, the less than human contribution of electronics. But much of this set keeps the electronics in it’s place, so to speak, with the vocals and piano nicely upfront, humanising the sound. I have played this through a good few times now and it improves each time. There are elements here, perhaps the vocal styling, the gentle instrumentation, that reminds me of a band that has claimed a corner of my heart, the improbably named Undertheigloo whose two albums have, to my mind, been sadly overlooked. I hope the same doesn’t befall Dark Dark Horse, they deserve better .
There is a danger that music such as this doesn’t pack enough immediate punch and so might not win the few listens that it demands to get under your skin with it’s rippling piano lines, twinkling and carefully placed electronic under currents and melancholic vocals. The slightly mournful sentiment that runs through the set was in perfect synchronisity with the stair-rod-downpours, punctuated by sun bursting through for brief moments, for which this album provided the soundtrack, as I scampered around the streets of London today.
Much of this album is very good indeed, but tracks like Mercury Nevada have a particular haunting and delicate beauty to them that helps them to stand out. In many ways it is the simplicity of the songs, the lack of crushing overproduction and heavy-handed effects that ensure that this set remains light but still with the capacity to captivate.