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I Break Horses [Live]

I Break Horses, Scala. Sunday 1st April

The Scala is packed, we can just about see the band as they appear in silhouette.  From Sweden, I Break Horses, are Maria Linden (keyboard and vocals) and Fredrik Balck (drums). They create music from well-defined multidimensional layers, painting luscious soundscapes. The band also features a geeked-out keyboardist and leather-clad guitarist.  The odd camera flare reveals Maria wearing a red cloak. With a mountain of hair, she sways from side to side, sometimes leaping, sometimes just moving to the beats.  Frank is on drums at the back, providing a backdrop of various beating hearts.

Signed to Bella Union and named after a song by Smog, its obvious we are in for an achingly hip evening.  The debut album by I Break Horses was welcomed in August 2011. A collection of stolen moments over the last three years, Hearts is a collection of sundrenched, shoegazey dreamscapes.  Reminiscent of Kraftwerk in their early avant garde years.  Elements of Stereolab, Spritualized and Add N to X shine through. Prepare to be bathed in a wall of sound, synths, echoing drum beats and reverb.

Experiencing I Break Horses, is like being immersed in clear blue water, submerged in psychedelic bursts of noise. The audience drift in the waves of sound, the band name starts to make sense, wild hearts come together, swimming through shimmering pearls and sequined coral.  The set opens with, 'All of My Tears' – a Spacemen 3 cover.  The track brings us straight into the band's abstract world.

like being immersed in clear blue water

'Hearts' has a continuous buzz, a steady heartbeat, is fully charged and balances on a single tone.  There is a distant call of echoing hushed vocals as the track breaks into a kind of steady catharsis, fused with a sense of escape and freedom. 'Winter Beats', starts with a high, almost saccharine buzz. This track is spangly, whirrrrring, the heartbeat continues ('don't let that cold blood freeze, frozen love will bleed…') with smattering pieces of sound, like raindrops.  It's as if the frozen love, so painful, just melted away. Ambivalent and dazed, Maria pushes the words out. We are hypnotized by these sonic dreams, like spacemen.

The band leave the stage and the audience cheer for an encore. They return with 'I Kill Your Love Baby,' a bouncy drum sound, a dull buzz in the background.  The low howl of Maria's words are delivered via an aching expression as she drifts away into her own song.  The feeling is relaxed, ambient, prayer-like.  Sonic colours, marching sounds, fast heartbeats, missing beats.   The crowd are whisked off again, the smoke machine engulfs us, a blast of cold air, I feel like I am in a snow blizzard.

Maria is the wolf woman, we are pulled along by Siberian huskies, wild rushing moments, sudden then slow, in a desert of arctic snow.  Left with glowing lights, drums beats and a siren call. Ladies and Gentlemen, I Break Horses are floating in space and are likely to do so for some time. As are we.

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