Shadowy avant-space-folk outfit The Blunder of a Horse merges Coil’s musick to play in the dark with the communal investigations of free improvisation, creating circling, echo-swathed mantras that seem to call forth the ancient ghosts of the land. Zoantrophi channels that particular strain of psychedelia that Jhonn Balance and Sleazy Christopherson made their own, but twisting their mordant lyricism into the more abstract, sinewy forms familiar to anyone versed in the Emanem or Incus discographies. But these eight pieces still stink of soil and leaf, of the sheep’s skull picked clean by the crows, the mist shrouded wood. Odd shapes reflected in a rook’s eye.
Zoantrophi isn’t quite Zoanthropy – the mental disorder in which one believes oneself to be an animal – but those avian screeches and animalistic moans permeating the album remind us of those mythical changes that are fixtures of our folk tales. Reynardine, the fox-man outlaw. Tam Lin’s protean transformations. The molten fury of In Accordance (Anthrowpi) is like some shapeshifter’s mantra in the way its seething surface boils and gushes with the texture of white-hot larva. The fuzzed guitar is stretched into an eternal sustain, warped and duplicated and stretched into unnatural shapes, as other multitracked guitars shimmer and coo in a glittering psychedelic jam. Indeed the swooping recorders on Quinzhee Via Dayspring seem to enact some kind of transmutation themselves as they dive and whirl, like black dye squirted into the clear water of the twanging, reverberant guitar backing.
Occasionally, however, the explorations don’t go far enough, their invention stalled by a reliance on repetitive cycles. Harrowing Of’s harmonica and zither grooves never quite take flight, their ritual allure calcifying into jam band stasis. Waldunsicherheit wanders around in a duet of chorused guitar chords and high-pitched lead, hesitant, as if waiting for Makoto Kawabata to plug in and rock the fuck out.
But when it works, it works well. The daemonic glee of Interrolang is a wonder to behold, its spiralling, gleeful hoots – probably recorders, but I like to think they’re flutes made from the jawbones of dead beasts – reminding us how close Apollonian ceremony is to Dionysian excess. The plangent pastoral melodies that wind around at the start of the track soon spiral out of control into a writhing dance that wouldn’t look out of place in an Arthurian rave up to welcome back the Green Knight, head or no head. Continuum: Unnatural is even freakier, its metallic bashes and ghoulish moans sitting somewhere between the gentle mallet guitar reveries of Easter Island Head and the heavy demon songs of Lustmord’s The Word As Power album. The force that runs through the green fuse guides us through these songs. All hail the horse people.