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Twilight Circus Dub Sound System – Horsie

Label: M Records Format: CD,LP

Twilight Circus - HorsieRyan Moore‘s fifth solo album as Twilight Circus is billed as “Dub-Rock-Electronica,” which is about an accurate decription as needed – but with the emphasis as ever on the bass. Moore (who also plays bass with The Legendary Pink Dots, and is likely to batter audiences with inflatable hammers, while dressed in feather boas) has drawn a lot from the UK dub scene of Adrian Sherwood and On-U Sound as well as the traditional producers such as King Tubby. The former’s influence is apprent in “Romy”, which opens the set with a booming, majestic bass and a shimmering accretion of analogue synth tendrils. The liquid electric pianos and keyboards which reverberate throughout several tracks (especially around the skanking stepping of “Kik” or the marvellously dynamic “Binshaker Dub”) show the influence of the latter more, and the whole is all the more remarkable for the fact that it’s a one-man studio band making such a lively, organic noise.

The rock side peeks through at first in the title track’s guitars, though the reggae groove is still predominent – there’s more of a post-rock feel to the Spanish guitars here, and comes fully to the fore on the slightly epic swell of “Oats,” which verges on the soaring at times, and occasionally resembles Trans Am at their most dubbed-out, or the relaxed expansion of “Carousel” and the slowly recursing “Rock Salt,” which blends the genres most successfully. Still, the drums and the bass are the most important thing about Horsie; solid swells of warmth and circling patterns of rimshot, echo and the steady heartbeat. Moore is obviously in love with the sound of Seventies Jamaica, but not so respectful as to restrict himself to mere reproduction.

The mood swings from the contemplative to the militant and back again via blissed-out in the most varied Twilight Circus release yet, honed live on serveral major tours. There are many dub albums worthy of a bass-bin shake or ten, but Moore maintains his high standards as one of the quality acts which raise the genre above mere repetition and also avoids pastiche. With future recordings likely to feature vocalists for the first time, the expansion of the TC sound seems likely to spread into new areas. Horsie bursts with vibrant rhythms and shimmering electronics, lovingly packaged in individual sleeves by Moore – and how many records have fluorescent crayon covers?

-Antron S. Meister-

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