KWCR Album of the Week: I Break Horses, ‘Chiaroscuro’

Swedish duo I Break Horses is nothing more than stoner synth pop. I came up with this term myself in order to describe the gossamer vocals and inconsistent layering of all breeds of electronic noise that occur in music produced by Frederik Balck and Maria Linden.

I can see bands similar to I Break Horses (stupid name, by the way) taking over in the realm of stoner music. No longer will bands like Sublime or The Mars Volta be the only ones on the playlist — the wave of the future is here, and the synth demands its place at the table.

After dropping the guitar from “Hearts,” I Break Horses’ second album, “Chiaroscuro,” was looking to juxtapose the simple complexity of the contrast between light and dark. This is impossible for I Break Horses to achieve because of the layering effect on almost every song.

Track 2, “Faith,” is a perfect example of the layering I was talking about. Notes spiral in and out of tune, and the vocals echo. This is typical of every song on the album, of course, but at least it doesn’t last as long as “Medicine Brush,” Track 6. This song clocks in at a whopping seven minutes of nearly endless “neo-psychedelia” or shoegazing.

During the intro, the first minute and a half is a drone-like silence. Even after the vocals break the space rock jam, “Medicine Brush” offers little to compensate for all the twinkly time the listener wasted.

On a lighter note, I did manage to have a favorite song on the album. Track 7, “Disclosure,” is more satisfactory, although still similar to everything else you can expect from “Chiaroscuro.” I want to say the vocals are what make it on this song. Linden’s voice drifts in and out of the song’s consciousness, sounding almost like a choir of ghosts. This is pretty cool, actually.

In all, “Chiaroscuro” was unsurprising. I give it two stars, since it belongs more in a sci-fi film soundtrack than it does my CD player.