Mount Moriah

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Horseback: Impale Golden Horn (2007), 6.5/10
Horseback: The Invisible Mountain (2009), 6.5/10
Horseback: Forbidden Planet (2010), 6/10
Horseback: Half Blood (2012), 6/10
Horseback: Piedmont Apocrypha (2014), 7/10
Horseback: Dead Ringers (2016), 5.5/10
Mount Moriah: Mount Moriah (2011), 4.5/10
Mount Moriah: Miracle Temple (2013), 5/10
Mount Moriah: How To Dance (Merge, 2016), 5/10

Horseback, the project of North Carolina's guitarist Jenks Miller, started out with the droning ambient psychedelic music of Impale Golden Horn (Burly time, 2007), notably the shoegazing Finale (17:00), that ends in an almost spiritual shower of guitar distortion, and the languid and ecstatic Laughing Celestial Architect (15:16), reminiscent of guitar-based British ambient music of the 1990s (like Seefeel).

Miller straddled the border between several genres with the four pieces of The Invisible Mountain (Utech, 2009): the slow and acid Captain Beefheart-ian blues dirge Invokation; the hypnotic, trippy, jazz-rock shuffle Tyrant Symmetry (with a cinematic guitar solo); the spiraling gypsy-tinged space-rock The Invisible Mountain; and the celestial spiritual ecstasy of Hatecloud Dissolving Into Nothing (16:34).

Miller adopted the cannibal growl of black metal on Forbidden Planet (Brave Mysteries, 2010) and then he mixed it within layers of dense distorted drones in the three parts of High Ashen Breeze, creating a sort of black-metal approximation of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.

Then came A Throne Without A King (2011), a collaboration with the Pyramids (the four-movement A Throne Without A King) and New Dominions (2011), a collaboration with Locrian that includes the 13-minute Our Epitaph.

The vocals are a mixed blessing on Half Blood (Relapse, 2012), for example in the growling stoner-rock of Ahriman. The highlights are the expanding "om" of the instrumental Inheritance (The Changeling) and especially the distorted and pulsating instrumental Hallucigenia III - The Emerald Tablet, with traces of Calexico's "desert rock", the piece that truly justifies the album.

The Gorgon Tongue collects Impale Golden Horn and Forbidden Planet. The triple-disc A Plague of Knowing (2013) collects rarities and leftovers.

The two lengthy instrumental pieces of the five-song Piedmont Apocrypha (Three Lobed, 2014) are significant additions to his canon: the deep psychedelic trance of Piedmont Apocrypha (10:28) and the dense and stately shoegazing crescendo of Chanting Out The Low Shadow (17:00).

Dead Ringers (Relapse, 2016) contains experiments in wildly different genres: the cinematic melodic fantasia Shape Of The One Thing, the acid-rock jam In Another Time In And Out Of Form and the 16-minute abstract soundscape Descended From The Crown.

Jenks Miller started Mount Moriah with bassist Casey Toll and Dolly Parton-esque vocalist Heather McEntire, the frontwoman and brains of alt-country outfit Bellafea that had released the EP Family Tree (2004) and the album Cavalcade (2008),

Mount Moriah debuted with the EP The Letting Go (2010), followed by the album Mount Moriah (2011), a rather boring experience of slow, melancholy, sleepy ballads, although the best one is also the slowest and most plaintive one, Old Gowns.

Mount Moriah got more serious (and more musical) on Miracle Temple (2013), with the breezy and graceful aria of Younger Days, the catchy and lilting Bright Light, the tense Swannanoa, and the bluesy Miracle Temple Holiness. But half of the album is filler. How To Dance (Merge, 2016) contains the passionate Calvander, the honky-tonking Precita, the rocking Chiron (God In The Brier), and especially the stately elegy Baby Blue. Unfortunately the second half of the album is mostly somnolent and disposable. A four-song EP would have been plenty.

Miller's nine-minute Hats Off to Roy Montgomery appears on Roads to Ruin (2014), a split album with James Toth (aka Wooden Wand).

Blues From What (2016), credited to psychedelic outfit Rose Cross NC, but de facto a solo guitar album with a bit of percussion, contains the pow-wow blues Yellowtail (08:09), but From Nothing to What (10:18) and Scrying in Water (20:30) are wildly self-indulgent.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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