Horsebeach - Beauty & Sadness
Indie shop version pressed on clear vinyl.
Horsebeach is the Manchester-based project masterminded by multi-instrumentalist and producer Ryan Kennedy. Two years on from the chiming majesty of II, he returns with Beauty And Sadness - ten rain-soaked vignettes touching on love, loss, regret and remorse. Conceptual, confessional and boldly melodic, it’s a deeply textured LP fusing the familiar C86 jangle with chirping synths, grooving rhythms and expansive ambience whilst meditating on break ups and fuck ups with striking lyrical honesty.
Melancholic, but never miserable, Beauty And Sadness is a celebration in the exquisite pain of longing. Named after Yasunari Kawabata's 1964 novel of the same name – a book which helped Kennedy through a difficult breakup – the source of the album’s title gives a clue as to what lies within, as Ryan explains; “It's about regret and an overlaying sense of loss but also a realisation of the beauty of starting again. I found some beauty in sadness, as it forced me to re-evaluate everything.”
Although the sound may be a departure from Horsebeach's norm, the recording process remains the same with Kennedy overseeing all aspects of production. Taking full control of his melodic output, Beauty And Sadness is the third record to be released on Horsebeach’s own Alone Together imprint. Ryan says; “I've come across many records which bands have released themselves and I've developed an understanding of how the system works. There's something really special about being involved with a project from start to finish. I never had any big plans for the music so just getting it onto a physical release and it existing was enough. This band's progress has been mostly organic and I think there's a sense of loyalty from fans who have found us for themselves rather than being forced at them from billboards.”
As a live outfit the group expands to a four-piece consisting of Kennedy (guitar/vocals), Matt Booth (drums/percussion), Tom Featherstone (guitar) and Tom Critchley (bass) – all of whom have other musical projects outside the band including Field Route, Amoeba Boys and another of Ryan's projects, Half Silk. “I think my delving into electronics with Half Silk has informed a lot of the experimentation on the new album.” he reveals. Ryan’s day job working behind the counter of Manchester's longest running independent record shop Piccadilly Records has also had an effect. “I'm definitely more critical of new stuff, I do still find it inspiring though and there's always something new to discover. All it takes is one customer to mention a label or a scene you're not familiar with and suddenly you find yourself in a whole new pocket of music you've never rummaged around in before.” explains Kennedy.
Drawing on inspiration from either side of the Atlantic, both new and old, Horsebeach's music retains a certain appreciation to classic British guitar bands - The Smiths, Felt and groups from the C86 era are all indebted here. But Kennedy gives it a unique twist by delving into ambient electronics inspired by the likes of William Basinski and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. From the album’s dream-like intro - soft with velveteen pads and the delicate romanticism from a speech sample of Japanese author, Yukio Mishima - hazy synths give way to propulsive percussion, rippling guitars and soaring chord progressions as the band’s bittersweet signature sound evolves with newfound poise and purpose.
The real excitement now will be when all those influences are brought into the live arena during Horsebeach’s full UK tour this Spring. “It’s always interesting because I often end up writing way more parts than we have hands to play live,” admits Ryan. “It's means some songs have to be adapted a little for the shows but it’s all part of the fun and a small price to pay for having the freedom to create the songs we want to make.”
1. Theme For Beauty
3. The Highest Place
4. How Far Must We Go?
6. Theme for Sadness
7. Beauty & Sadness
8. My Heart Longs For You, Pizza
10. I Must Work & I must Die
Label: Alone Together
Format: Vinyl LP
Cat Number: AT6LPX
Released: 17 Mar 2017
Genre: Indie & Alternative