In April 2017, Finnish band Horte was releasing its debut album through Svart. The band embraced the tradition of contemporary experimental Finnish bands in implementing notions of psychedelic music and krautrock and, as a result, constructed a heavy ethereal dreamscape that became the basis of their music. Featuring members of weird sonic travelers PH and shoegaze/psych explorers Kairon Irse, this alchemical process could only be successful and resulted in a strong debut record.
The band’s first album explores the elusive leanings that rock music can take, providing a melancholic touch to the structures and progression of their music. At the same time, the rock form and certain pop sensibilities are introduced and make Horte’s music take a more solid form. Straightforward when it came to the evolution of the music, but lucid and experimental regarding the underlying sonic structures, it all was a fine balance that Horte was able to achieve.
One year after their debut album was released, Horte return with a brand new EP that sees them dive further into experimental territory. The structures overall appear looser, taking on a free-form approach, which allows them to evolve through experimental methods. While the debut album featured tracks of a more conservative length, Horte go all in with this new work, producing two long form tracks. Dedicated to fully exploring their concepts, the band sets forth by adapting the modus operandi of krautrock, performing looping themes through an organic presence. That gives the illusion that while repetitive playing is applied, the music itself is always moving forward and evolving.
Drones begin to appear through the use of feedback, with the band crafting their apperance. By controlling their sonic presence, the drones surround the remaining musical elements, placing confinements and setting the dimensions the track will operate. In addition, the guitar lines are used sparingly to add further detail on the various passages of the tracks. Staying in the background and lower in the mix, for the most part, they add another layer of richness to the already impressive tapestry Horte creates.
As was the case with the debut album, the two main pillars of Horte’s music are the synths and the vocals. In this case, the synths iterate the main themes of the tracks, performing brilliant lead work and creating a more versatile environment. Constantly morphing through the record, the synths also grant a sense of variety that compliments the krautrock induced drumming patterns. On the other hand, the lead female vocals elevate the transcendental quality of the music with their ethereal form. Repeating verses as mantras, they have the power of dragging you amidst the dreamy domain that Horte has built.
In the second track of the EP, Horte takes a further step into the realm of minimalism. All the individual elements still perform the same actions, but there is a perspective more closely related to electronic music concepts in terms of structure and repetition. The synths are less vibrant, dressing subtly the background with subtler tones, while the stripped down percussion can only be felt as a faint pulse. It is quite an interesting trip, showing the bare bones that make up the band’s ethereal vision.
This EP is a distinct step forward for Horte. While the debut album from the band was a strong release, it felt as if they were playing it safe. Relying more on structures and appearing more direct than necessary, in this EP they truly lose themselves in the haze of the two long form tracks, unveiling their capabilities. If they continue to embrace this adventurous sense of experimental music, the future will get even brighter.