Spook The Horses
People Used To Live Here
10th November 2017 – Pelagic Records
02. Crude Shrines
03. Blessed Veins
04. Made Shapeless
05. Near Then, Far Now
07. We All Know Your Name
08. Following Trails
Spook the Horses‘ breed of post-rock has a strong focus on long, melancholic tracks and jangly guitars; it feels inherently indie-leaning, but with a particular warmth and depth.
People Used to Live Here feels spiritually close to Mogwai; their light touch informs their delicate, mournful sound. However, at times they fly close to the Neurosis pattern of devastating, post-doom; they’re rarely guitar-heavy, distorted or feral enough to really commit to that, but the record is a mature mix of light brooding and barely-contained destructive forces. The instrumentation is lush and there’s a depth to it; certainly a breath of fresh air from bands who takes a mass and volume approach.
“Lurch” has a darkness to it; almost a Neurosis vibe but lighter. It’s all build-up, but features some marvelous spectral atmospheres that float just under the surface. This sets the tone for the whole record, expanding to Bees Made Honey-era Earth influence, especially notable on the stand-out “Blessed Veins“. This pattern continues to the conclusion of the record, culminating with the sombre “We all Know Your Name” and the final, quiet parting gift of “Following Trails“.
From the perspective of a post-metal fan, this feels fresh; a record with focus, bite and backbone but underscored with warmth and grace, something that shares an aesthetic with some devastating heavier bands but is clearly cut from a different cloth. There’s a particular maturity to their composition, proof that atmospheric heavy music doesn’t need to be off-the-walls experimental to succeed.
Impressed though I am at their multi-instrumental prowess, I feel like that may inform their live performance a little more; in terms of recorded music, I felt especially impressed by the rich vocal performance. The vocals only feature on a few tracks and therefore come across like a well-placed addition rather than as a focal point. This is similar to how bands like Mogwai place their vocals, and it highlights their instrumental prowess and haunting, spectral atmospheres.
People Used to Live Here is gentle and warm, a mature and well-rounded effort and an example of a band drawing a wide range of influences without losing coherency. They’re also just off-putting enough to be a little frightening; consider the horses spooked indeed.