A selection of reviews
“A Rough Musicking” review from Woven Wheat Whispers – Mark Coyle
From the South West of England we are proud to bring a new duo called ‘The Horses of the Gods’ on their debut EP. The duo consists of Mike Ballard and Matty Bane, a duo of deeply held belief in the continuation of the ancient through to the present via music. Their name connects back to the ancient British deification of horses, represented in chalk hill carvings, ancient burials and the continued resistance of the British to horse meat. This is not merely a matter of choice, it is because there is a deeply held spiritual adoration of the horse as a founding belief within society that we can no longer understand or articulate. Horses conveyed the gods and the warrior kings whose sacrifice bound together the worlds of the living and dead. In their name, the duo instinctively represent all this.
It is fitting then that they should commence with the traditional song of death and rebirth, of crops dying to be reborn as ale, of the Summer dying to be reborn next year as Spring. ‘John Barleycorn’ may appear superficially about the processing of crops to make ale, but those crops often contained mould that had hallucinogenic qualities in ancient times. The eating of corn and wheat is comparatively modern, it was the transformative qualities of the crops that were more important originally. The seasons turn, the crops die and return and our cycle of life continues. Their version has pounding minimal drums, tense guitars and a deep innate understanding of the drone that sits at the heart of traditional music. This is one of the most powerful and genuinely ancient versions I have heard, it is wonderful to think we can help to share it.
‘Down In The Bay’ has plucked guitar melodies that remind of Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon’ album’ at first. But then the song swells in chorus into moments of whirling psychedelia. ‘Final Digger Song’ tells of the Diggers, the rebellious group of the English Civil War that believed in economic equality. This song is performed in the music style of the Reformation period and the authenticity merged with the conviction in performance evokes memories of Bob Pegg’s definitive early folk-rock band Mr Fox.
The final song is here all too quickly and is completely different again. It is a curious fairground organ backed dervish that expands into a surreal sing along that is both unique and strange. It’s very odd but I’ve had it on three times repeatedly so I’m obviously hooked.
Here we are hearing a band of immense potential right at the start of their recording career. We look forward to hearing their music and supporting them over the years to come.
The Terrascope review
It’s perfectly clear that these musicians take their work very seriously, starting with Wiltshire’s own Horses of The Gods (Mike Ballard and Matty Bane) and their earthy, acoustic interpretation of the set’s namesake. If you only know Traffic’s version, this one will surprise you, as the fairly sparse arrangement seems better suited to relating the story than Traffic’s (admitedly transcendent) psychedelic, electric version.
“The set gets off to a strong start with what has become one of my favourite renditions of “John Barleycorn”, The Horses Of The Gods opening in solemn style, with sombre male voices, a bodrhan and sparse instrumentation creating a rough-edged and spine-tingling processional.”
Evening of light review