"The Gorgon Tongue: Impale Golden Horn + Forbidden Planet"

By Earthdog

Alright, there hasn't been a drone review for a while so here I am reviewing 'The Gorgon Tongue: Impale Golden Horn + Forbidden Planet' by Horseback,  which was released by Relapse on May 10th, 2011. This album is a combination of two Horseback records – one being 'Impale Golden Horn'  and the second being 'Forbidden Planet' which previously was released as a cassette-only release.  Combining these releases together makes for a very interesting collection, these 2 albums were recorded 3 years apart and there are  vast differences between the two. Jenks Miller is the only constant member in this outfit that mostly plays droning soundscapes using a lot of harsh and gentle drones combined with feedback and a lot of reverb. But being two-albums combined you get two radically different recordings that both still stay within the post-rock/drone genre.

There is certainly no easy listening on this 90 or so minute set, however. 'Impale Golden Horn' which Miller spent three years recording and reworking is a grandiose piece of work but one where your imagination has to do a lot of work to fully appreciate what is going on. What stands out is that the typical use of droning repetition is magically disguised as it is repeating itself but it is rare when you are ever aware of it. Also what I appreciate is the recording seems to be very natural and organic with no or very little use of computers. There are sparse, electric-guitar meanderings that at times get very westernized in a Neil Young kind of way but the atmosphere is very ominous. If you're a fan of bands such as Earth you will most likely dig 'The Gorgon Tongue: Impale Golden Horn' part of this package but I personally found it a little hard to get into. Too meandering and stark overall but the 'Forbidden Planet' album is something different again.

'Forbidden Planet' is a of course a reference to the 1956 sci-fi classic. A stark, desolate soundtrack full of inhuman shrieks and black metal screams. The mix of the metallic and the cinematic works wonderfully well and to think this was only released originally on cassette is bizarre as this is a standout piece of work. The cinematic angle they use reminds me of Italian horror-proggers Goblin but only much more twisted and demented. If there was such a thing as 3-D music, this would be it. The music is sometimes ugly and jarring but there is a constant, building melody in each section. This is abstract psychedelia at its best in my opinion but lacing it with the black-metal shrieks might turn some folks off a little. Horseback made a splash when they released the 'The Invisible Mountain' album but if you are expecting more of the same from this band, this may disappoint or you may like it even more. Personal choice and taste is what it all comes down to anyway.

This is a difficult package to put a score on, if I was to rate them separately then the scores would be vastly different but on the strength of 'Forbidden Planet' alone, this has to rate pretty high. I see also on the Relapse Store Page they are letting this one go for only $12 so that is a bargain in my book. I will give this advice too. If you buy this, listen to the two albums on different days. Listening to these two recordings in the one sitting seems like an unnatural experience, I made the mistake of playing 'Forbidden Planet' first which in hindsight wasn't the way to go as 'The Gorgon Tongue: Impale Golden Horn' seems a little weak to me by comparison. Check it out though - I almost don't want to put a score to this release but I will give it a 9/10 but most points go to 'Forbidden Planet' - it is worth buying this for that alone.