I’ve been promising myself I’d check out Coloradoan duo The Flight of Sleipnir for some time and latest album V. (Napalm) points out just how criminal my tardiness has been. Opener ‘Headwinds’ starts out all ‘Planet Caravan’ with gently warbling vocals drifting through dreamy psychedelia. Suddenly, emerging hostile screams escort mellow leads through bristling anger, an anger which is subdued somewhat by a mix favouring the moaning harmony. The ensuing ‘Sidereal Course’, a doom-laden Simon and Garfunkel meets Jefferson Airplane, is graced with a growling riff and brief explosions of fire and brutality, a ferocity that adds violence to the core feel, which has a real air of 70s Americana about it.
It’s a shame the pummeling drums and rhythms are frequently cocooned in a mono-style production; the desolate hostility of ‘The Casting’ dwarfed by a delicious, ephemeral lead sequence. The creativity here, however, is immense with ‘…Casting’s’ riffs lending a frosted black edge to a reflective folk-rock pace which is graced by seriously emotive tones, while ‘Nothing Stands Obscured’ blends a maudlin Haight-Ashbury vibe with London Grammar-style wistfulness before a stratosphere-rending, post-black conclusion. The easy, lilting harmonies of ‘Gullveig’ splinter on the rocks of a crashing riff and icy screams, an acoustic-infused folky Floyd meeting a harrowing mournful edge, in a marriage of beauty and acrid bitterness that sums up the album as a whole. ‘Archaic Rites’ has an indie female vocal ghosting over a gently veering undercurrent, augmented by a tasty hippy flute solo, a snarling riff and hypnotic oscillations closing an affecting track, whilst a lazy yet impassioned blackened groove is speared by truly spectacular lead work on closer ‘Beacon In Black Horizon’, David Csicsely‘s impressive drums quietly dictatorial, the eerie coda a lament to a fallen chieftain.
The differing elements of ‘…Horizon’ epitomise an album with feet in so many pies that it aurally represents the eight-legged beast the band is named after. As legs connect the horse’s hooves with one body so organically, so this duo melds its various strands into a belonging whole; to an inventive tour de force and an essential experience.