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rojan Horse are one of those bands who defy easy categorisation.
One week they’re playing progressive rock festivals sharing bills with the likes of Mostly Autumn and The Enid, the next week they’re supporting post-punk legends The Fall.
To quote their own bio, the Salford-based quartet aim to drag 70s progressive rock kicking and screaming through all the subsequent decades, and their second full-length album World Turned Upside Down sees them do precisely that.
Instrumental opener “Jurapsyche Park” jump-cuts between manic surf guitar and the intricacies of Discipline-era King Crimson to end in a frenetic climax of duelling Hammond organ and abrasive guitar that recalls the live jam at end of Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin'”. It manages to pack an awful lot into just over four and a half minutes.
From then on the album explodes in all directions at once. “Sesame” comes over as a strange mash-up between Yes and Talking Heads. There are brief numbers called “Interlude”, “Centrelude” and “Outerlude”. The equally short “See Me At The Crow Bridge” is one minute twelve seconds of delicate beauty.
The title track starts with a Peter Hammill-style vocal and ends with squalling violin. The largely instrumental ‘Behemoth’, with it’s warm rippling guitars, even recalls mid-70s Rush at one point. Towards the end of the album, the lengthy “Hypocrite’s Hymn” brings an extended instrumental workout from prog-jazz to avant-noise, and the semi-acoustic folk-prog of “Death And The Mad Queen” would not have sounded out of place on a Decemberists record. The album ends with the hilarious punky “Fire! Fire!”, complete with fire engine noises.
Trojan Horse put prog-rock, post-punk and free jazz into a blender, and what comes out is as just as bonkers as their live performances. They can be as visceral and pummeling as their stage act when they want to, but on record there’s a lot of variety and musical sophistication too. Unlike lesser bands who attempt derivative pastiches of the sounds of 70s progressive rock or 80s post-punk, Trojan Horse actually capture the spirit of the things, which is what makes their music sound fresh and exciting.
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