Genre: Ambient / Noise
This C20 cassette records for posterity the music of Josh Lay (Cadaver in Drag/Glass Coffin/Josh Lay) and Morgan Rankin (Gnarly Sheen), both of whom also run Husk Records, containing two side-long pieces which were recorded deep in the womb of the earth in Worm Cave in Nicholasville, Kentucky, last year. As such, presumably because of the conditions prevailing deep underground, the first thing to notice about this tape is the amount of reverb present; the music on here is completely bathed and suffused in it, the reverb enveloping and muffling the sound like a thick warm liquid cocoon, just like the fluid cushioning the foetus in a womb. I would go so far as to posit a new genre and subgenre for it: amniotic ambient, with the music of Swamp Horse belonging firmly in the waters of amniotic noise ambient.
Before getting to that reverb thing though, a word or two about the music itself; side A kicks in with a massive swirling jet engine noise accompanied by clearer piercing tones hovering and orbiting around it, darting in and out, a noise given birth from the very ground beneath the feet and sending seismic shockwaves through the body right up to the tip of the head. It sounds like the muffled rumblings of Hell itself, the troglodytic hordes and legions partying on down amidst the sulphurous fire and brimstone. Side B announces the arrival of the headline act, deep bass rumbles, and crunchy loops breaking into brooding guitar grind, a grainy malignancy baring a not inconsiderable set of teeth, a sound constantly on the move and growling forth like some kind of hungering beast searching for satiety, prowling the deep tunnels and chasms of the world to feed on the wayward souls of the damned and lost. It’s a beautifully realised piece of deeply stifling claustrophobia, filled with heavy miasmas of sticky black nostril-clogging particles moving in constant Brownian motion, oppressing and dragging the soul down with it.
So what about all that reverb then; do the copious amounts of it serve only to drown and smother everything, rendering this nothing more than a swampy, muddified mess? Surprisingly no; in spite of the muffled quality attached to these recordings, details can still be discerned quite readily enough and the two pieces are, if anything, enhanced rather than spoiled by it if truth be told – this reviewer certainly didn’t enjoy it any the less for its inclusion. It adds a type of broody character to the recordings, a vast ponderousness even, which is entirely in keeping with the dark cavernous images it conjured up.
An extremely likeable piece of doomy, hellish electronics and experimentalism, which was ultimately something of an experiment in itself; recording deep in a cave somewhere has added another quality and dimension to it, pleasingly so and planting it firmly in subterranean noise mode. Of course, some may get distracted by the idea of such a thick layer of reverb, but be assured that it’s an essential element in the overall context presented here; without it, it would lack something, and it would be a lot less coherent. Consequently, it would be a pity then if only few people got to savour its hidden depths....