Avant-garde rock band Horse Lords comes to Market Hotel, playing from their fifth album, Comradely Objects. With performances from Cairo-born vocalist and sound artist Nadah el Shazly as well as multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ka Baird, join us for a night of complex, layered sound.
About the Artists
Horse Lords return with Comradely Objects, an alloy of erudite influences and approaches given frenetic gravity in pursuit of a united musical and political vision. The band’s fifth album doesn’t document a new utopia, so much as limn a thrilling portrait of revolution underway.
Comradely Objects adheres to the essential instrumental sound documented on the previous four albums and four mixtapes by the quartet of Andrew Bernstein (saxophone, percussion, electronics), Max Eilbacher (bass, electronics), Owen Gardner (guitar, electronics), and Sam Haberman (drums). But the album refocuses that sound, pulling the disparate strands of the band’s restless musical purview tightly around propulsive, rhythmic grids. Comradely Objects ripples, drones, chugs, and soars with a new abandon and steely control.
This transformation came, in part, due to circumstance. Sidelined from touring their early 2020 album The Common Task in a world turned upside down, Horse Lords promptly returned to their Baltimore practice space and began piecing together the music that became Comradely Objects (Bernstein, Eilbacher, and Gardner have since relocated to Germany). Removed from their tried and true method of refining new music on the road, the quartet invested less energy ensuring live playability and more rehearsing and recording. The deliberate writing and tracking process, a rarity since the band’s earliest days, led to a collection of pieces that signal a new peak of creativity and musical heft without devolving into studio sprawl or frippery.
Comradely Objects reflects familiar elements of Horse Lords’ established palette—the mantra-like repetition of minimalism and global traditional musics, complex counterpoint, the subtleties of microtonality, a breadth of timbres and textures drawn from all across the avant-garde—with some standout stylistic innovations. At different moments, the album veers closer to free jazz than anything else in the band’s catalog, channels spectral electroacoustic tones, and throbs with unexpected yet felicitous synth. While these new elements are evidence of additional studio time and care, Comradely Objects retains the dizzying obsessive rhythmic energy that galvanizes the best moments of the band.
It’s vital that the Horse Lords’ instrumentals speak for themselves, and for the quartet’s shared musical and sociopolitical vision. The title derives from Imagine No Possessions, art historian Christina Kaier’s 2008 book on Russian Constructivist design. Constructivists shunned the artistic egoism and precious artifacts of capitalist art in favor of utilitarian objects for the masses. “The comradely object should promote collective, egalitarian ideals,” the band notes. “They tended toward simple, unadorned forms that emphasized utility and foregrounded the material.
Comradely Objects works through what this means for the material of sound, for music, for the album, and for artistic production in the 21st century.”
Not only does Comradely Objects redefine the possibilities for Horse Lords’ shopworn format, it adds a new contour of confidence and finesse to the band’s reliefs mounted in both sticker-spattered indie hovels and the white-walled world of composition. It also solidifies their position among the foremost smugglers of radical musical and political ideas into contemporary music that happens to also, after a fashion, rock. Comradely Objects presents the most sublime document yet of the band’s ongoing interrogation of aesthetic and social form, purpose, and intent, alongside note, beat, and raw sound.
Nadah el Shazly is a producer, vocalist and sound artist from Cairo, Egypt. Her debut album Ahwar radically reinvents the popular music of her homeland from the early 19th century and explores new sonic and harmonic frontiers. Using voice, field recordings and instruments, she creates haunting sound pieces and songforms that hijack the perception of time with their complex layers and dynamic structure.
Backing up her release with extensive worldwide touring through a solo set and a four-piece band, El Shazly has been featured in local and international festivals including Irtijal, Le Guess Who?, REWIRE, Best Kept Secret, Nusasonic, Marfa Myths, amongst others. She continues to compose for film and visual art and has been featured on compilations including Nashazphone's This is Cairo Not the Screamers and C.A.N.V.A.S.'s Apocope.
Most recently El Shazly curated the Egyptian Leather Pavillion for Nyege Nyege Festival 2020. She currently hosts a monthly show on Cashmere Radio, Live from Viper Mountain, where she deep-dives into music that fascinates her.
Ka Baird is an American recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, producer and performer based in New York City. Baird is known and heralded for her raw, ecstatic, and boundary pushing live solo performances which often involve energetic and experimental body movements, vocal and mic techniques and flute playing.
Respires, the second solo album by Ka Baird, and first on RVNG, blurs the line between word and action, definition and possibility. Spirited yet restrained, bearing its wildly thrummed heart strings and inner calm alike, Respires ventures toward the unknown, charting the shifting ground of experimental music and the rewards born of risk.
Baird followed Respires with Bespires (2020), a collection of outtakes and covers, and Vivification Exercises I (2021), a live performance captured at Roulette’s Brooklyn theater in May of 2018, releases part of the Commend THERE tape series.
In Fall 2021, RVNG shared a new FRKWYS collaboration between Ka Baird and the late Pekka Airaksinen. Hungry Shells was recorded as part of a residency in 2018 at Le Guess Who? (Utrecht, NL), produced and mixed by Ka Baird in 2020 after she took time to process Pekka’s passing in 2019.
Ka is a road warrior who tours the world often/when possible; her live performances are not to be missed.
About Pioneer Works (PW) Presents
Pioneer Works Presents is the moniker used for Pioneer Works's off-site programming production. Through Pioneer Works Presents, Pioneer Works extends its programming and artistic direction outside of its Red Hook walls to create ambitious concerts, performances, and exhibitions.