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Horse Lords Debut Single and Video For 'People's Park'

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Horse Lords Debut Single and Video For 'People's Park'

Horse Lords have shared a music video for their single "People's Park" from their forthcoming album The Common Task (releasing March 13 via Northern Spy), which they premiered today via The Quietus.

The song title comes from a public park established by the Young Lords, a Latinx liberation organization. It was built both as a community-run community space and as a bulwark against development on a vacant tract of land in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, which at the time had a large Puerto Rican population who correctly feared they were being pushed out. A modest utopian project compared to some of the other points on the album's titles' map of socialist modernisms but an inspiring assertion of the public's right to occupy public space.

"The music was an experiment in testing the limits of genre--in this case, reggaeton." says Horse Lords, "The project was approached with great respect for the history, techniques and repertoire of reggaeton, trying to extrapolate from rather than impose upon. The standard drum pattern underwent a process of distillation and recombination (this we must admit was not a minimally invasive procedure), mutating into a tiling rhythmic canon. Reggaeton's links to dub were emphasized in the production, overall the hope being a balance of reverence and playfulness.

The director, Corey Hughes, explains what inspired the video: "There is something other wordly about figure skating. The movements look supernatural, like they are floating in space or a virtual environment. What I really responded to in the track and the choreography is the balance between structured repetitive elements and looser improvisatory elements. I adopted a similar approach for the cinematography of the video, combining more formal static shots with fluid, energetic, and reactionary camera movements. Like the skaters themselves, the movement of the camera fluctuates in and out of sync with the track."

Horse Lords make music for the liberation of mind and body. Propulsive in a way that inspires movement and that's felt in the gut, the Baltimore quartet's new album The Common Task points to a utopian, modernist ideal. The group's use of algorithmic composition techniques, microtonal harmonies, and plentifully deployed polyrhythm aren't secondary to the music's danceability and rhapsodic swirl, but integral to the party itself.

The Common Task is both the most cohesive and farthest-reaching record Horse Lords has released. A mystifying density of ideas collide at each moment, recalling as diverse a cohort as The Ex and Glenn Branca to raucous Saharan guitar music, Albert Ayler, and James Tenney. It integrates experiments that gestated in the group's cassette-only mixtape series, which saw the band stretching out on extended compositions and more expansive sonic parameters as well as presenting more explicitly political material, while retaining the immediacy of their long players. As evidenced by the album's title, as well as songs like "Fanfare for Effective Freedom" and "People's Park," the band's penchant for radical politics is especially accentuated on this release. Embedded in the exuberant interplay of guitar and sax, the persistent pulse of bass and drums, are notions of egalitarianism and the subversion of established norms.

"Fanfare for Effective Freedom" augments its slippery 5/8 groove with keyboard runs that seem pried from a Terry Riley album, an apt reference for musicians interested in ecstatic release and sonic emancipation. "Integral Accident," an 18-minute piece that occupies the album's entire b-side that features the first sung vocals on a Horse Lords album, was originally composed for a program focused on the concept of "revolution." Even more than 2016's Interventions, now a classic of the underground and praised by the New York Times as "live, shivering with energy," electronic elements have been fully enmeshed into the band's template, from synthetic treatment of bagpipes on "The Radiant City" to the dub and reggaeton-inspired drum edits and synth pulses of "People's Park."

Horse Lords are the Pied Piper of experimental music and radical thought. Their music is unabashedly fun, and experiencing it in a live context is an experience of collective ecstasy, each body moving to its own notion of what the beat may be. That shared experience, the joy of unified flow and motion, allows the ideas typically understood as "difficult" to be more easily absorbed. By using musical forms that point towards new ways of being, thinking, and organizing, by constantly re-evaluating assumptions and compositional systems, Horse Lords provide a model for society at large. By showing just how joyous it can be to imagine new futures and possibilities, by making us dance and howl with each tectonic shift, they show how dazzling the path towards utopia could be.

Announced Tour Dates

3/12 Baltimore, MD @ The Ottobar
3/13 Philadelphia, PA @ Vox Populi
3/14 Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool
3/15 Washington, DC @ Rhizome
3/16 Richmond, VA @ Cary St. Cafe
3/17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Collision
3/18 Detroit, MI @ UFO Factory
3/19 Cincinnati, OH @ Northside Tavern
3/20 Chicago, IL @ The Hideout
3/21 Chicago, IL @ The Hideout
5/2 Brooklyn, NY @ Bang on a Can LONG PLAY Festival
5/8 Odense, DK @ Momentum
5/9 Copenhagen, DK @ Alice
5/14 Lyon, FR @ Le Sonic
5/15 Nancy, FR @ Bon Moment at L'Autre Canal
5/16 Willengen, DE @ Kernmacherei
5/18 Hamburg, DE @ Kampnagel
5/19 Aarhus, DK @ Tape

Photo Credit: Audrey Gatewood

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