Music Reviews

Remora / Pale Horse and Rider / Rivulets

The Alcohol EPs


A three-way split between three slo-core acts, featuring songs “influenced by or written under the influence of alcohol,” the press release informs us. This is the sound of three artists bravely recreating the visions of long nights spent drinking alone, as well as confronting their inner demons, working their way out of hard substance abuse.

Brian John Mitchell is Remora, and the six songs on here marks a slight detour from his “regular” post-rock influenced drone towards a more acoustic, stripped-down and insanely intense folk sound. Some truly haunting moments on here – notably “Built” and “Oblivion” – showcase Mitchell’s grand talent for making music that is both world-weary and tired yet searching and confronting. This is music to get lost in and, once you accept that approach, to find your way in as well. Stunning.

This release marks the first appearance of Pale Horse and Rider – Aarktica’s Jon DeRosa, that is – and this is a most welcome new acquaintance. Less outwardly slo-core than the other artists on here, DeRosa delivers songs in a more “classic” folk songwriting mold, less repetitive and churning, but equally stripped-down and intense. Represented by four songs, of which the lovely “Bruises Like Badges” and the darkly beautiful “You’ve Been Keeping Secrets Again” – with its insane backing vocals – are the top moments. An amazing new name, this, and I can’t wait to hear more from him.

Rivulets are Nathan Amundson’s outlet, and are obviously one of the leading exponents of the current slo-core scene. The four songs on here convincingly explain just why that is so. “Anaconda” is a captivating, beautiful track, layered and rich in a stripped-down, minimalist setting. Building in intensity, going from a whisper to a scream over the course of its 12+ minutes long rung, this is Amundson at this most uncompromising, and one of his finest works yet. “Gimme Excess” is more desperate and more degenerate, in a sense, a primal brutality underlined by the out-of-tune, monotonous, frantic guitar. Emotions run out of control, and the song breaks down by the end, Nathan crashing to the floor, with a woman crying out his name in the background. Unsettling and moving. “Shakes” is both more extroverted and upbeat than your regular Rivulets song. That is, until the end, when it fucks it all up to create something completely different and probably more interesting as well. “Your Light & How It Shined” ends the album on a somewhat redemptive note, albeit a paranoid, haunted kind of redemption. As it must be, for sure.

Three of the scene’s finest slo-core bands on one 72-minutes long split, then, offering a disturbing and distressing, but brutally honest and richly rewarding collection of songs. Unmissable.

Silber Records:

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