Dead Horse One - Season of Mist (Requiem Pour Un Twister Records)
By Elizabeth Klisiewicz
Dead Horse One is the wonderful French band led by singer/guitarist Olivier Debard. Hailing from the southern French town of Valence, they formed in 2012 and released the well-received EP Heavenly Choir of Jet Engines. In 2014, they released the marvelous Without Love We Perish, produced by Mark Gardener of Ride. The band cites influences ranging from The Telescopes to John Barry soundtracks, and it’s somewhat evident in the grooves of this new release. The band has always favored the poppier end of the psych gaze spectrum, and seem less involved with regurgitating the same old tired MBV effects. With a high focus on swooning psychedelia and heavenly layers of sound, Dead Horse One have another winner on their hands.
The album was mixed and produced by John Loring from Fleeting Joys, and also features musical contributions from John and Rorika Loring (also from Fleeting Joys). John also co-wrote two songs (“Disconnected” and “Today”). I have listened to this album repeatedly over the past week or so and continue finding new treasures in the mix, so I very much appreciate the care that was put into this recording.
Opening track “Insight” is truly stunning, and I really dig the somewhat warped sounding keyboard that starts it off. It morphs quickly into a full blown psych stomp with gauzy textures, the perfect synthesis between shoegaze and psychedelia. And before I expound further, let me state for the record that I have always considered shoegaze to be a sub-genre of psych, so the two fit together neatly. The vocals are wonderful here too, as are the guitars soaring into the stratosphere. Wonderful opening track!
“Season of Mist” is equally gorgeous, and it reminds me the most of A Storm in Heaven era Verve. Especially with the curls of feedback surrounding the entire mix. If ever a song deserved to be a hit, it’s this one. Just amazing! “Mesmerise Me” is a graceful and sublimely trippy slice of decadent psych, and is truly swoonworthy. You will find yourself floating on golden clouds, raised up by the grandeur of this music. The guitar work by Olivier Debard is fantastic here, but that is the case throughout the record.
“Disconnected” starts off with warm burbling synth and cooing male/female vocals. It is tranquil and easy to lose yourself in, and while it stretches out to five minutes and has lighter textures, it features some stellar guitar. “Today” shifts gears, slowing down and mixing some interesting vocal layers in with a haunting synth line. It reminds me of Ride’s quieter moments, and I like the way the song dials it back to basic instruments before ramping up the energy. “Mantis” is a slight bow to Swervedriver, mostly in the pile-driving guitar and bass, the faster pace, and the frenetic energy swirling about. Then, in mid-song, the band veers off on another track and it’s like a second song was tacked on.
“Sharon” is densely packed with walls of towering feedback that part slightly to let in light swirls of organ and delicate vocals. Very pretty! “It’s Been Awhile” is another nod to Adam Franklin and company, right down to the ethereal vocals wafting through the heavy buzz of guitars. Great! “Sons of God” has symphonic swoops that remind me of that Verve hit that shall not be named, only it’s way better than that. I especially dig the vocals, and the way the wonderfully rendered guitar curls around and between.
“Forget About Jesus” is not the most obvious song to end the album, but it encompasses everything I like about this group. The synth lines are skewed and cool, and the guitars crunch sweetly in the right spots. In short, this is a great record from this talented French group, and is a release well worth picking up for shoegaze and psych fans of every stripe.