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Horse Lords - Truthers - Live at CHIRP Radio

Recorded on location at the CHIRP studio building in Chicago, IL by Mike Lust of Manor Mobile Recording. Video captured & edited by Big Foot Media.

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About Horse

Baltimore City

Horse Lords is the quartet of composer/performers Andrew Bernstein (reeds, percussion), Max Eilbacher (microtonal bass, electronics), Owen Gardner (microtonal guitar), and Sam Haberman (drum set). Since forming in 2010 they have garnered praise for their relentless experimentation and exacting live performances. Over the span of three studio albums and three self released tapes, Horse Lords has mined the toolbox of (post)modern music, inserting arcane techniques—just intonation tuning, complex... more

Interventions

Released last year by New York based Northern Spy Records, Interventions is the closest we've come to realizing our musical vision in record form. It contains all of the elements: a blend of chaotic but controlled performance; musical synthesis across far flung genres; a nearly compulsive drive to experiment; and a desire to do things in as DIY a manner as possible (in this case by doing most of the engineering, mixing, and production ourselves).

Some praise for Interventions:

Philip Sherburne writes in his review for Pitchfork Media that, "[t]his is a band that believes that experimental music has the potential to be more than merely aesthetic, and every one of their choices—like taking apart their instruments and rebuilding them according to an alternate musical logic—speaks to a desire to upend the status quo." Writing in The Wire, Tristan Bath calls Interventions "an artistic breakthrough," while The New York Times' Ben Ratliff described the album as "shivering with energy." And Sasha Frere-jones writes in the Village Voice that "Horse Lords work loops against each other until you feel rhythms that you don't want to have to count....the joy rises, though, when the band lock gears and roll hard through their chutes and ladders." Interventions also appeared on several of 2016's year end best-of lists, including The Wire, Red Bull Music Academy, The Baltimore City Paper, WTMD, and The Observer.

Mixtape Series

Since 2012, we have self-released a series of tapes—dubbed "mixtapes"—which have allowed us to explore new ideas, play with compositional approaches, and ultimately discover new sounds. We treat each tape as both a sounding board for the development of new ideas and a self-contained work unto itself. From Mixtape Volume 1 onward, we have practiced the technique of audio collage by juxtaposing a series of seemingly unrelated musical components into one unbroken stream.

The City Wears a Slouch Thong

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of The Thong Song by Baltimore native Sisqo, Towson University radio station WTMD asked a number of Baltimore artists to reimagine the song in their own styles.

For our version, we wanted to fully deconstruct the song and fashion something entirely different. So we first created a spoken word composition by breaking down all of the individual words used in the song and assigning them numeric values. We then reconstructed them using a random number generator, a process inspired by the chance procedures used by composer John Cage (the title is also a play on Cage’s experimental radio play The City Wears a Slouch Hat). To accompany the spoken word portion, we made sounds by processing the original song as well as recording instrumental versions of it's constituent parts.

Hidden Cities

Our second studio album—recorded in Baltimore with Chris Freeland and released by NNA Tapes—Hidden Cities marks the further integration of our live sound with forays into studio experimentation. The long form pieces Outer East and Macaw form the backbone of the record, which were then deconstructed and reformed to create the accompanying pieces.

Some praise for Hidden Cities:

Chris Richards writes in the Washington Post that "Hidden Cities pushes, pulls and piles up guitar riffs like loose Jenga blocks...clever, vibrant and feel[s] like the opposite of homework," while Baltimore City Paper's Bret McCabe says “[it] continues the band’s inviting union of American minimalism, propulsive rock, and the time-traveling intricacies of African rhythms...Head-pounding stretches of rhythmic unison splinter into disorienting layered phrases as parts of songs come together and disintegrate in the ear, all while maintaining an insistent forward momentum." Hidden Cities also appeared on several of 2014's year end best-of lists, including The Washington Post, Baltimore City Paper, and AdHoc.fm.

  • Hidden Cities Cover

    By Hermonie "Only" Williams.
  • Macaw (Video)

    To create this video, we assigned portions of the song Macaw to eight different video artists—Mary Helena Clark, Greg St. Pierre, Duncan Moore, Margaret Rorison, James Thomas Marsh, Andrew Bernstein, Max Eilbacher and M.C. Schmidt—who worked independently of one another. Then we combined the segments into one continous piece.

Hidden Cities Remix

Following the release of Hidden Cities, we conscripted an assortment of artists we admire from around the country and tasked them with reconstructing the album as they saw fit. The resultant collection was dubbed Hidden Cities Remix and consisted of a diversity of approaches, from Drew Daniel's straightforwardly fun streamlining of the song Macaw, to Jon "Wobbly" Leidecker's process oriented reconstruction of the song Outer East (which is all but unrecognizable), to M.C. Schmidt's almost wistful combination of our songs Outer East and Tent City with flutes, sounds of the ocean, and Bjork's Anchor Song.

All proceeds from the release of this project went the Living Classrooms program Believe in Music, which aims to uplift underprivileged Baltimore City students academically, culturally, and spiritually, while promoting self-expression and community awareness through music education.

Composition for Retuned Autoharps

In 2014, we were asked to perform at the Creative Alliance Residents' Open House in Baltimore, and we decided to write an entirely new piece of music for the evening. As the focal point of the piece we took autoharps—a stringed instrument with a series of chord bars attached to dampers which mute all of the strings other than those that form the desired chord—and removed the chord bars, then re-tuned them into a just intonation tuning system. We then played them with bows and mallets, accompanied by cello and guitar. All of the instruments were then electronically processed and diffused around the gallery of the Creative Alliance using a quadrophonic speaker system. Later we recorded the piece, and below you can hear both the recorded and live version.

Untitled (Ear)

Esopus Magazine, an award-winning nonprofit arts publication, invited ten musical acts to create new songs inspired by the bodily organ of their choice to include in a CD compilation that appeared in Esopus 22: Medicine. The theme of the CD relates directly to that of the issue itself, which is filled with contributions exploring the connections between medicine and the arts.

For our piece, we incorporated “third-ear” psychoacoustic effects, structuring the song around the Fibonacci sequence, a fractal pattern that approximately describes the shape of the outer ear.

LAMC #9 Split 7" with Lower Dens

A vinyl 7" series put out by Famous Class records, LAMC pairs a more well known artist—in this case Lower Dens—with a more obscure contemporary (us) for a split release. The digital proceeds from the release are then given to the Ariel Panero Memorial Fund at VH1 Save the Music, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education in America's public schools.

Horse Lords (s/t)

Released on the Baltimore based label Ehse Records, Horse Lords was our first attempt to capture our live sound, with hints of the collage approach that we would later explore in greater depth. The album was mixed by Jason Willet, who was given a free hand to experiment with unconventional mixing techniques, such as filtering entire tracks through a synthesizer—called the Cocoquantus—which is made by onetime Baltimore resident Peter Blasser.

Some praise for Horse Lords:

Wesley Case writes in the Baltimore Sun that, "Horse Lords succeeds by never getting too comfortable. These movements are intricately designed, assembled brick-by-brick, note-by-note, and the finished product is something worth revisiting...it's a record of restraint and precision from talented players more interested in groove and mood than cheap, sugary thrills." And the Baltimore City Paper's Bret McCabe says that, "patience isn't a mere virtue for Horse Lords; it's integral to the group's long-form dynamic. Feeling out a groove takes time. Understanding anything-a melody, a rhythm, a musical motif, a belief system-takes time. Fast only reaches the end sooner. And Horse Lords, an instrumental-rock band in the process of discovering if it can evolve into something else, is only two years into its journey."

Horse's Curated Collection

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