I Break Horses – ‘Chiaroscuro’ Review

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Let us not get too hung up on the title of I Break Horses second album ‘Chiaroscuro.‘ Rather than anally debate whether the title, an Italian term, which literally means ‘light-dark’ and in art is used to describe the contrast between, aptly reflects the tone of the album (it does) instead let us concentrate on the actual content therein.  ‘Chiaroscuro’ was written, performed, and produced entirely by Swedish chanteuse Maria Lindén and is a body of work that combines the life affirming cinematic grandeur and vision of Sigur Rós, the emotional depth and glacial beauty of The Cocteau Twins with the introspective bleak beauty of Anna Von Hausswolff.  It is an eminently worthy successor to the critically acclaimed début album ‘Hearts’ and sees Linden step out of the darkness into the light willing to take risks, to show herself and push her music in a different direction. And the albums ambition is matched only by it’s beauty.

‘Ascension’ for example, which for some reason recalls ‘Disintegration’ era Cure captures the emotional contrasts between light and dark perfectly.  What starts as a mournful sounding lament quickly morphs into four minutes plus of shimmering euphoric beauty.  ‘Denial’ begins  with looped electronic reverse reverb and quickly reveals itself to be an object lesson in how to create haunting dark glittering pop perfection whilst exploding the myth that electronic music is by default cold or emotionally disengaging.  The sweeping seven minute ethereal beauty of   ‘Medicine Brush‘ has hints of The Cocteaus at their most celestially Gothic whilst ‘You Burn’ ‘Faith’ and ‘Weigh True Words‘ prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Ms Lindén is huge talent whose work deserves your full attention. Because ‘Chiaroscuro’ is an album that will reveal it’s many layers and nuances upon repeated listens, it’s an album to completely immerse and lose yourself in, to be slowly seduced by and most definitely not an album to be reviewed after just one listen to meet a deadline. A classic.

9/10

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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.

Discussion4 Comments

  1. Ah a reviewer that gets this album and a reviewer that takes the time to actually listen. Good to know people have actual functioning ears.
    Unlike the dude on Pithcfork.

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