by Niccolo Dante Porcello (@chromechompsky)
“The fabric of time” is an interesting term for a host of reasons, but for our purposes, identifying that there is a historical tendency to equate fabric (a material) with time (temporal construct) is a good start understanding Horse Jumper of Love’s first proper LP. The Boston trio has crafted a gem, wrapped up in the utterly visceral crawl of life. Self titled, Horse Jumper of Love is a record bent on reminding one of the indomitable and unrelenting pace of existence – the album that is distinctly temporal in its architecture. As such, numerous entities have referred to HJoL as “slowcore” and the description fits, but it is a reductive moniker, reducing what is some of the most enjoyable pacing and song structure of any album in recent memory.
Noticeably built around Loveless-style shimmery moments, HJoL get loud and quiet as the world demands it, but it is resolutely done on their own terms. At so many moments on the record a sense of anticipation builds and dissipates – a build leads to a drop that doesn’t function beyond its clear purpose of heavy raw wall-of-sound noise making, and that is fine. On “Bagel Breath” this is laid out most clearly, with pauses and turns becoming the demonstrative fabric through which the song lives. “Sun Poisoning” has a similar relentlessness; all of the builds serve only to deliver more moments of washy chaos.
It is on these tracks that HJoL feel most attuned to the aforementioned sense of the pace of life. Unrelentingly Horse Jumper moves forward, and every time the album is finished it seems like a mistake. Upon the end of my initial listen through, I figured I was missing the final tracks and went searching for more. There were none, of course, but recourse was given through the last two minutes of “DIRT,” so loud and powerfully wrought that the only true comparison is probably like, the fucking Hadron Collider.
All across Horse Jumper there are moments like this, where some deeply moving chord strikes without warning and improbably renders "guitar music" fresh again. “Spaceman” opens with a lulling progression that turns menacing when Dimitri Giannopoulous begins singing, and progresses always toeing the line between uneasy and resigned before a reverb-y onslaught in the final minute pushes the balance. A distinctive lyricist, Giannopoulous’ alluring line: “sitting on my America towel/ you got bored and put on my clothes” feels familiar both as a moment of youthful boredom, but also as one borne out of the kind of relationship where you remember deeply weird moments, as if on a personal film loop. Similarly, “there is dirt/ and there is juice/ and I am mixing/ up the two/ I am dry/ quenched by you” (from “DIRT”) feels somehow deeply romantic but in a way no one could ever understand.
“Ugly Brunette” and “i love you very much forever” bookend Horse Jumper and while executed very differently feel cut from the same cloth of RIP-y remembrance. All told, the album feels very much about these different kinds of nostalgia for the minutia of daily existence. The odd bits that normally don’t stick in our minds sometimes do, and that well is the one Horse Jumper of Love draw from. As far as records go, Horse Jumper doesn’t tell you what to think, but instead provides fertile land for thinking to take place. The effect of this should not be underestimated, and when it is done so well, by three great musicians, it makes for a hell of a time.