Like the Bridget Riley-styled art of the album cover, The Common Task seems to emerge, fully armed, from the traces of a bright modernist history whose ruins yet infuse our hearts with hope. The many references of the album have been explored by better writers elsewhere, but the various anchors to the decade of 1970 weave this music together as a tapestry within which to glimpse into a dreamtime of utopian aesthetics. Like all good tapestries, it does not hide that its textures and craft are indivisible from the ideas behind it, and it offers a kind of rock n’ roll whose propulsive energy does not revolve around some sort of inner drama.
Instead, Horse Lords bring together other kinds of sources, all rooted upon 1970s musical histories. In this “nomadic mural” the powerful, mechanical rhythms of krautrock contrast with the groovy organicism of West Saharan blues; the intense drone of bagpipes, as expansive as it sounds massive, is followed by soft, serpentine North African melodicism; minimalist quietude (think Morton Feldman) sways into electronic noise and complex beats. Unsurprisingly enough, these mixtures are subtly psychedelic, inasmuch as their energies blend into each other, almost meditatively so, and yet feel relentless. Pay close attention to the labyrinthine patterns of the riffs, the elaborate dance rhythms articulated by the bass and drums, and you will start to feel entranced, compelled to whirl around in dissolution like the Sufi.
Thus, beyond the avant-garde references of the album’s title, the music itself does attempt to elevate rock n’ roll into a cosmic plane where all the elements of the tapestry finally make sense, where they also become indistinct, and where they fruitfully leave behind whatever ego was limiting their potential. It is rock made for partying, but not in the sense in which a heightened individual experience is sought (a mark in one’s personal history, incidentally tied to others), but one in which the party works as the nexus for myriad connections among those present, as the site where a transcendental, shared tranquillity results from ecstatic dancing (a mark in our history, incidentally tied to the self).
The rising drone of “Against Gravity” comes back at the end of “Integral Accident” – it is like an alarm, sounding off right at the end of a tense groove, the grinding noise of a future yet to be fulfilled. This is our commonality, this is rock n’ roll as a collective endeavor, and if we tend to it, if we take the weaving upon ourselves, everything else will fade into the distance as a memory of times when the threads hung separately, seemingly impossible to connect. Onward! Because, like The Philosophy of the Common Task states, “the possibility of a real transcendence from one world to another only seems fantastic.” (David Murrieta Flores)