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9 Horses — Omegah
(Adhyâropa Records, 2021, LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-09-09

Omegah Cover art

This New York City based trio consider themselves a post-genre band, although they are really more than a trio when one considers all of the guest players that seem to be featured on nearly every track. So, what’s a post-genre band after all? If 9 Horses is indeed that, then by their example it means elements of a chamber ensemble with jazz-rock tendencies, informed by jazz, folk, and improvisation, the degree depending on the moment-to-moment genre-hopping that they are so adept at. At the center of the action is composer Joe Brent, one time member of Regina Spektor’s band, and several classical ensembles and orchestras, who also plays acoustic and electric mandolin. Along with Brent is violinist Sara Caswell, collaborator of Roseanna Vitro and Esperanza Spalding, and double bassist Andrew Ryan, who is also a regular member of folk musician Kaia Kater’s band, also playing electric bass. So we have only mandolin, violin, and bass? Brent also doubles on various synths and glockenspiel, Caswell doubles on the hardanger d’amore, and the guest list includes numerous musicians playing piano, drums, percussion, Fender Rhodes and Contempo, Hammond B3, Wurlitzer, cello, additional electric bass, additional violin, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, trumpet, flugelhorn, harpsichord, string harp and vocals on one track. That’s nineteen extra musicians above and beyond the core trio. The eight tracks on Omegah are all over the map, with the opening title track seemingly subsumed in a powerful blanket of rock driven by mandolin that frequently jumps into jazz, classical, and symphonic side-trips with violins and additional strings, bass, and drums both keeping a steady beat as well as improvising wildly. Nine minutes later you’ll wonder what planet you just visited. In parts of “S7rophe” one might swear they’ve discovered a long lost piece by Jean-Luc Ponty, though it’s constantly changing over its duration, even dipping into dreamy jazz territory with a beautiful trumpet solo, and a shared section for piano and violins. Again, by the time it’s over the listener will know they’ve been on one amazing journey. The one track with vocals is the amazing “Max Richter’s Dream,” beginning with a multi-tracked voice part by female singer Dallin Applebaum, soon joined by violins, cellos, and more while the voice fades into the shadows, but the wordless vocals do return, with unusual wah and leslie effects swirling around your mind, and throughout the piece there are numerous switchbacks with harpsichord and more sharing the space with the strings; it’s the album’s longest piece at over fifteen minutes as well as being the most stunning and beautiful. At seventy-seven minutes total, each lengthy piece offers a complete soundworld that the listener can easily get lost within. Bandcamp orders come with a bonus track, "Purple Paisley Telecaster," which isn’t included on any streaming platform or on the vinyl release.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): 9 Horses

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