Floating In Space and Time – Dark Horses Interview – Album Review

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Imagine you have been set adrift in space, floating alone in that vast star fretted void as you watch the Earth turn slowly beneath you.  You see pulses of light, the shifting patterns of weather systems, and the twinkling lights from city’s far, far below.  Hopefully you’ll have brought your IPod along to soundtrack the whole experience, and you select an album that captures the vastness, the desolation, and the overwhelming beauty of your surroundings, an album such as “Black Music” By Dark Horses perhaps?

Dark Horses’ début album is full of shadowy allure and subtle bleak beauty in which Swedish siren Lisa Elle’s nonchalant, beguiling, vocals, described as “a holy communion of Grace Slick and Siouxsie Sioux,” tease, coax, and seduce the listener into blissful submission.  Cryptic, oblique, and heavily stylised Dark Horses combine a flamboyant futuristic 50’s noir biker gang vibe with music of substance and elegance. We never doubted Dark Horses, but get this concept wrong and you run the risk of sounding like the worst sort of pretentious art collective, but get it right and you can produce something enigmatic, nuanced  stylish and utterly sublime.  “Black Music” is certainly all of those things as well as being a wonderfully immersive, richly rewarding listening experience.  

They inhabit a world of their own construct in which the aural and the visual enjoy a symbiotic relationship, a place where manifestos obfuscate rather than enlighten.  But a place where ultimately the seductive power of the music slowly fills the atramentous abyss with a burnished iridescent radiance.  A fabulous début and a compelling introduction to world of Dark Horses and certainly one of our album of the year contenders.

Album rating 9/10

We spoke to Lisa to see if she’d be prepared to shed any more light on the band, she did, to a degree – after all she is a Dark Horse Wink

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VP:  Hello!  There appears to be a certain amount of obfuscation and mythology with regard to how the band came together?  What’s the true story or at least your version of it Wink?

LISA: WELL IT DEPENDS WHO ASK, SOME SAY ONE BALMY NIGHT WE FOUND ONE ANOTHER DRESSED IN LEATHER HUSTLING UNDER BRIGHTON PIER, OR MAYBE  FROM HANGING OUT AT ‘NEEDLE THRILL’, THE CLUB OF BRIGHTON’S TINY ‘DRONE SCENE’ AND LETS NOT FORGET THE RETURN OF BOBBY THE ‘MOTORCYCLE BOY’.  THE FACTS ARE MEANINGLESS, BUT THE CALLING IS CONSTANT.

VP:  You have said, “we look good so you can hear our music.’  What came first, was it the music, or the idea of what it means to be a “Dark Horse”?

LISA:  THE MUSIC WAS THE ORIGINAL CATALYST BUT IN THIS CASE, ONE CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT THE OTHER.  WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DARK HORSES…

VP: In a world where everybody knows everything about everyone is the mysterious cloak that shrouds Dark Horses a consciousness effort to kick against that and to create an atmosphere around the band that feeds into how people react to the music.

LISA: WE ALL PROJECT OUR OWN IDEAS AND FEELING ONTO THINGS, PERHAPS THE LESS INFORMATION THERE IS THE MORE WE MAKE SOMETHING OUR OWN.

VP: I caught you at Glastonbury in 2010 and have been looking forward to the album for what seems like an age and I must say it’s everything I’d hoped for and more.  Was the process of recording it enjoyable, what are you best memories of that time?  

LISA: ENDLESS NIGHTS COCOONED WOMB-LIKE WITHIN THE WARM ELECTRICAL HUM OF KEY CLUBS STUDIO’S, WHILE OUTSIDE THE DEEP SILENT SNOW ENDLESSLY FELL.

VP:  You played the UK’s newest and apparently most civilised festival this year, Festival No 6 in Portmerion.  I had tickets, yet sadly couldn’t go so now I want to live the experience vicariously through you.  How was it?  I imagine the backdrop of the village fitted in rather well with the Dark Horses aesthetic

LISA: INDEED IT WAS A TRIUMPH, AS IF WE WERE CHILDREN AGAIN, RUNNING THROUGH THE VILLAGE ENTERTAINED BY MODERN MINSTRELS, HIGHLIGHTS WERE THE EARLY YEARS, TOY AND NEW ORDER.

VP:  You have taken a slightly different route to many bands in that your earlier shows found you playing larger venues supporting Kasabian.  What did you learn from this kind “being thrown in at the deep end” type experience, did it shape a vision of the sort of shows you wanted to put on albeit on a smaller scale?

LISA:  PLAYING WITH SUCH ESTABLISHED ARTISTS MEANS THAT WE HAVE BEEN INSPIRED TO SHARPEN OUR OWN IDENTITIES AND STAGE CRAFT, IT’S NO COMPETITION, IT’S ABOUT MAKING SURE YOU ARE TRUE TO YOURSELF.

VP:  Are their particular artists that inspired you, that made you want to from a band like Dark Horses?

LISA: THE LIST IS ENDLESS BUT HERE ARE A FEW OF TODAY’S CHOICES:

ALEXANDER ‘SKIP’ SPENCE OR SYD BARRETT FOR THEIR WONDERFULLY ECCENTRIC WRITING, PUBLIC ENEMY FOR RAW ENERGY AND PURE COMMITMENT, PRINCE FOR SHOWMANSHIP AND MUSICAL MASTERY.

VP:  What of your plans for the rest of the year will you be touring after the album release? 

LISA: DARK HORSES VENTURE TO AUSTRALIA TO PLAY THE HARVEST FESTIVAL IN NOVEMBER, CHASING THE SUN.  AND IN THE NEW YEAR WE SHALL BE TOURING THE U.K. WE ARE KEEN TO PLAY FURTHER UP THE COUNTRY,THERE ARE  SUCH RICH MUSICAL CULTURES TO BE EXPLORED.WE HAVE ALSO BEGUN WRITING TO FOLLOWING RECORD.

VP: What are your ambitions for the band, if we spoke in a year’s time what would have liked to have achieved/ experienced.

LISA: TO PERFORM IN EUROPE AND AMERICA AND CANADA (OUR RECORD LABEL IS THERE) AND TO HAVE RECORDED OUR FOLLOW UP L.P.  TO CONTINUE TO GROW, TO CHALLENGE AND TO INSPIRE OURSELVES AND OUR LISTENERS WITH PRECISION AND ABANDON.

WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR…

VP:  Five words to describe “Black Music’”………….

 LISA:  CURIOUS, NAIVE, THUNDEROUS, SENSUAL AND JOYOUS. THANKS VON PIP, VENCEREMOS X

Dark-Horses_interview-The-VPME

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Andy Von Pip

ANDY VON PIP - Founder, editor, writer, reviewer, photographer and all-round good guy at the VPME.com. House photographer for The Academy Music Group, Zuma Press, Event Magazine and Rex Features worldwide. You can check out his photography at Andy Von Pip Photography Has been new music tipster on BBC6 Music, Amazing Radio, and DJ on Strangeways Radio (USA.) Can currently be heard on IWFM Radio. His radio work has been described as sounding like Ian McCulloch on ketamine fused with Ringo Starr. New music tipster on Amazing Radio, moderator for BBC 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson's Fresh on the Net, former member of "BBC's Sound Of" panel. Written and photographic work has appeared in The Quietus, Music Week, Record Of The Day, The Guardian, GIITV, The Sabotage Times, Bido Lito, The Skinny, Louder Than War. Media partner and curator for Liverpool Sound City.

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