Block title

Work Samples

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.

Share:

About Horse

Baltimore City

Horse Lords's picture
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 four self released tapes, Horse Lords has mined the toolbox of (post)modern music, inserting arcane techniques—just intonation tuning, complex... more

Integral Accident

In 2018 we composed a piece of music to be performed with members of Peabody's new music ensemble Now Hear This as part of an evening of music based around the idea of revolution. Our piece, entitled "Integral Accident", was an exploration of indeterminacy, iteration, and recursivity that was composed using what are known as Lindenmayer systems to create rules to determine the rhythm, pitch, and duration of sounds played by acoustic and electronic instruments. Within this framework the players were given room to make their own decisions and create a version of the piece specific to themselves and the moment in which they played.

Stay On It

From the press release:

Horse Lords' arrangement of composer Julius Eastman's "Stay On It" (1973) here finds the band turning the composition's angelically layered waves of vibes, strings, and brass into a hypnotically propulsive party. This "Stay On It" connects the ethereal airiness in Eastman's piece with pulsating dance music, recognizing that minimalism's empty space can be transposed into the spaciousness carved out by rhythm hitting the body.

The music of Eastman, who passed away in 1990, is currently undergoing a much deserved revival, though his politically irreverent, playfully effusive, and unabashedly beautiful music still sounds ahead of its time. That Horse Lords would turn to him only reinforces the band's ongoing interest in rewiring rock's basic instrumental units, rock band as laboratory. For this experiment, guest artist Abdu Ali turns Eastman's program notes into a spoken-word introduction to the track, establishing the swaggering, joyous mood that follows.

Some praise for Stay On It:

Writing for Pitchfork, Seth Coltor Walls says, "The harmony is familiar, but the expression has changed—and it makes for a fitting realization of some of Eastman’s compositional concerns." Aquarium Drunkard calls it, " timely and rousing, beautiful and hypnotic." And Olivia Bradley-Skill writes in Dusted Magazine that, "In their slinky and vibrant arrangement of Eastman’s work, they allow their music to transport the listener into multiple, unimaginable worlds, allotting the breathing room to get lost in our own thoughts while bobbing along to the body-moving brass, strings, and electronics."

Interventions

Released in 2016 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.

Our most recent, Mixtape Volume IV, featured colloborations with fellow Baltimore artists Bonnie Jones, Abdu Ali, and Will Schorre.

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.

Ear for ESOPUS

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's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.