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Dark Dark Horse – Centuries (Function Record)

Atmospheric electronica with a frail human heart. When recently asked to describe the Dark Dark Horse sound, this is what Jamie Ward had said. And he should know, forming as he does one half of the studio incarnation of this band. He composed the music that would eventually find its way etched deep into the grooves of Centuries, it having first gone through a period of transition and development with his fellow sonic architect James Stafford.

Both men had risen out of a tough Leicestershire leftfield musical scene – Ward having Tired Irie, Kyte and Maybeshewill and Stafford kids in cars on their respective CVs – and together they began to construct the ambient electronic sound that would eventually become Dark Dark Horse. Now more than two years after it had first appeared on the Japanese record label Rallye, their debut album Centuries is officially released in this country courtesy of those good people at Function Records.

When the words atmospheric and electronica are juxtaposed together, tired comparisons with anyone and everyone from Sigur Rós and Stars of the Lid to Brian Eno and Boards of Canada are seen as virtually inevitable. It would seem that nothing can be seen or heard as being original anymore. But despite being faced with such obstacles, Dark Dark Horse has produced a strong body of work that manages to emerge out of the pigeon-hole of influence and derivation with quiet confidence and a strong sense of its own identity.

Centuries’ ten songs merge together across the landscape of its duration, with the sparse keys and textured electronic rhythms its heartbeat and Stafford’s mournful croon the leitmotif. The music ebbs and flows, quickens and slows down, as it makes its abstract journey from beginning to end. There is a serenity and calm belief shot right through this record no more so than on the quiet euphoria of The Sound of Muscles That Have Frozen Cold and the dramatic cinematic sweep of Mercury, Nevada.  Shadows and light may be Centuries’ itinerant travelling companions, but its hope is eternal.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Centuries was released on Function Records on 27th May 2013

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