WHITE HORSE – THE REVENANT GOSPELS volume I & II
(self released, 2010 & 2011)
Insomnia is a problem I suffer less often than I did in my 20’s, but there are still nights when I lay in the dark, eyes wide shut, mind in a constant loop of incessant information, listening to the heavy breathing of the rest of the house lost in dream. When this happens, the only way to silence the movies in my mind is to drown them in sound. This is why I discover most electronic music well after midnight.
Electronic music is hard for me. I need music to tell me a story and most of the time I need lyrics for that story to be told. That being said, there are exceptions to this rule and I do feel that any electronic art that is not designed to make you dance, should tell you a story. It should take you somewhere. It should get me out of this bed, out of this dark room and out of this house. It should simulate the dream I cannot achieve myself.
Last night, as the rain fell outside, I was taken to the Deep South to converse with ghosts. Glithy sounds entered my head and before I knew what was happening I had let ghosts in and once they were here, they were here to stay. For the next 15 mins they told me stories of their plight; in the South and the afterlife. ‘Ghost Gospel’ were the first two words that came to my mind, followed by Southern Baptist Choir of the Deceased…fitting really, especially when I realized that was I was listening to was an EP called THE REVENANT GOSPELS.
I have been in conversations with Chelsea Wolfe leading up to an interview for Noise Pop and she mentioned she was working on a side-project with Ben Chisholm (who plays in Chelsea’s band) of WHITE HORSE. I downloaded THE REVENANT GOSPELS volume I & II from his bandcamp page, put them on my nocturnal playlist and then forgot about them until last night, when they found their way into my unsuspecting, insomniac mind.
The first thought I had when hearing this electronic music (with clips from what could only be old films, songs and radio broadcasts) from another time and place, was this is way scarier than Salem, this is darker than Wise Blood, this makes most witch-house sound like a children’s carnival ride. Supernatural, spooky, even terrifying, but also strangely tranquil once you give yourself over to it. These spirits just want to be heard, they are not threatening.
It’s not often that art speaks to the observer exactly as it was meant to. But I assure you that everything I wrote above was what I was thinking when listening to this music while lying in bed last night. I fought the urge to look up WHITE HORSE or to research this work at all. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the title of the album, saw the haunted black-and-white artwork and the liner notes that said ‘all vocals performed by those whom are no longer with us.’ The chills went down my spine as the hairs went up on my arms. I really was lulled to sleep by the dead.
volume II takes us out of the South, away from the baptisms and exorcisms, and on a journey through other generations and points on the map. The ghost of John Lennon is followed by African voices that seem to have a hard time getting through from the other side to Angola. The overall concept and style is the same though, as if these other people from the past learned what could be achieved through the pioneers on volume I.
Chelsea Wolfe has indicated that films are more of an influence to her music than other musicians. I think it’s fair to say Ben Chisholm feels the same way. Other dark electronic artists might come to mind briefly, but the now defunct show Carnivàle, Alan Ball’s work on True Blood and Six Feet Under, a drive I took through Louisiana where the fog rose from the ground in a passing graveyard and the burial scene in The Serpent and the Rainbow are the only familiar, modern images that came to mind while examining THE REVENANT GOSPELS everything else was as brand new as it was ancient and as exciting as it was unsettling.
I also recommend the very different, full length, FINAL COORDINATES, an album that has contrasting electronic, noise, acoustic and even metal elements.