When North Carolina's Jenks Miller began his Horseback project in 2007, he did so in absolute obscurity. Many of his recordings were done completely solo, issued either as split releases with other artists or as extremely limited-edition CD-Rs, vinyl singles, or tapes. But the quality of the work spoke for itself; word quickly spread through global subterranean music circles, and gradually bubbled to the fringe surface of mass culture itself.
What do you do with the kind of brain-dump that A Plague of Knowing represents? It’s tough to listen to them all the way through, front to back, because the songs weren’t composed with a single listen in mind; in fact, many of them were composed with seemingly no relation to one another. Odds-and-sods compilations are a tough proposition, for sure, but if you’re able to crack their code, much like the one surrounding Horseback, you’ll find a wealth of excess, a musical cup overflowing with ideas, vitality, and energy, always on its way towards becoming something else, something greater. Nominally the solo project of Jenks Miller, lately of Merge-signees Mount Moriah, Horseback has been functioning in one form or another for several years now.
Jenks Miller has steadily built up a following with his alias Horseback, a sort of solo project that expertly comprises metal, folk, drone and shoegaze. While his albums have always had always felt like self-contained statements, Miller has gone and dropped a triple disc rarities set, a Plague of Knowing, proving that his songwriting is not subservient to his concepts. Admittedly, it's a huge undertaking to listen through, especially for newbies, but much like Horseback's other releases, it's worth the effort.The first disc collects songs from 7-inches and splits, as well as a previously unreleased, thoroughly blistering cover of the Stooges' "T.V.
Also of alt.country act Mount Moriah, Chapel Hill, N.C., mad scientist Jenks Miller carefully recombines Southern rock, psychedelic ambience, and black metal, proclaiming "It's alive!" over the corpus of a quirky but graceful monster. Three hours of demos, outtakes, live cuts, and other ephemera collected on three discs include everything from ersatz synth themes and dark folk rock to a 42-minute meditation on a single chord. Eccentric, eclectic, and brilliant.
Chapel Hill, NC’s Horseback – the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Jenks Miller – has been busy these last few years. After the expansive trance of their debut, their terse full-lengths have featured an interesting amalgam of black metal textures and vocals, Rhodes and shimmering guitar drones, and pattering mid-tempo grooves. Since repetition is their medium, and hypnogogy the goal, it’s fair to say they trade more in atmospheres than in tunes conventionally understood.