Some may say the era of jazz fusion is over. Sure, who could top the sheer energy laid down by legends like John Mclaughlin and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, or the later Miles Davis work, who would lay down the frame work for jazz fusion until it was ruthlessly murdered by Weather Report. But there are numerous bands that have been reinventing fusion and experimental jazz and funk and continue to do so today. Bands like Z’s, Nymph (both off Northern Spy Records), and long time Brooklyn vets Oneida and Guardian Alien have been taking psychedelia to further, fully immersive levels. Then there are artists like Battle Trance and Moon Hooch, who are redefining the abilities of the saxophone as an instrument altogether. Experimenting with scales and harmonies from all regions of the world, paired with sonic manipulations that breathe a modern life, these bands continue to lay down the path for true psychedelic and fusion music.
Having toured with comparative boundary-pushers, Guerrilla Toss and Guardian Alien, Baltimore-based Horse Lords are another band to add to that list. Having proven their ability with a self-titled debut, which contained one 15 minute long exceedingly wild and mind-blowing jam, their following full length, Hidden Cities, is taking things even further.
The album plays with African rhythms and Middle Eastern harmonies, combining them with futuristic electronic ambiences and modern engineering (See “Life Without Dead Time”). Other songs explore the use of field recordings and samples, like on “Tent City”, an experimentation with sonic sculpting, an indication that Horse Lords go much deeper than simply jamming out.
Beginning with a sprawling 12-minute song, “Outer East”, Horse Lords start off with a sprawling landscape of a track; beginning with a strange clipped-up ambient white-noise, they begin with a blank canvas, on which they splatter colors of harmonies, melodies and rhythms one after another, until a moving musical life form appears. “Outer East” piles layers upon layers of saxophones on top of each other, reminiscent of Steve Reich’s rhythmic accumulations. From the very first song it is clear that the intention is there,where composition exists within spontaneity. The album is a fusion of past and present; where the priority seems to be an exploration of alternative textures and physically evocative moods, Horse Lords has proven that the power of the trance has not left us yet, and that there’s still room in music to get trippy.
Stream Hidden Cities below and view their tour dates as well.
05 Baltimore, MD @ THE CROWN
06 Queens, NY @ TRANS-PECOS
07 Philadelphia, PA @ H4ZZ4RD H4LL
08 Boston, MA @ (HASSLEFEST) CUISINE EN LOCALE
09 Worcester, MA @ THE FIREHOUSE
10 Annandale-on-Hudson, NY @ ฿ARÐ ₵O££€G€
11 Winooski, VT @ THE MONKEY HOUSE
12 Montreal, QC @ BRASSERIE BEAUBIEN
13 Toronto, ON @ THE CENTRAL
14 Oberlin, OH @ OB€R£I₦ ₵O££€G€
15 Chicago, IL @ TH3 0BS3RVAT0RY
17 Louisville, KY @ THE NEW VINTAGE
18 Nashville, TN @ EL฿ERT4 HOUSE
19 Athens, GA @ 40 WATT
20 Atlanta, GA @ THE EARL
21 Boone, NC @ NBHQ
22 Durham, NC @ CHATEAU MOBY DICK
23 Washington, D.C. @ UNION ARTS