This was my first introduction to Antwerp’s Flying Horseman, and in this case, it was a challenging one. The thing is, that this is a band that, on the strength of these mighty fine compositions, just cannot be pigeon-holed. For example, the album’s opening track – The Key – is a sort of laid right back alt-folk tune, with a relaxed heaviness that the mighty American Music Club managed to wrangle on their more majestic moments. But the rest of the album? Well, its a box of tricks, production wise. And Room / Ruins has a sort of patience about it: it it lets you come to it. It’s cerebral, with an IQ fitting of a VIP Mensa pass. Indeed, Room / Ruins came from a sort of intellectual / compositional workshop exercise. For early in 2017, the band were “artist in residence” at deSingel, Flanders international arts centre, and this is the result of a seven week straight session.
The production bravado is on show with Deep Earth, which switches mid song into a meander down the same uncharted musical waters that Can paddled in. And it works, The intensity builds musically, adding more frisson to the vocal. If this track is an example of the thoughtful approach – likewise Stars and Reverie, then muscular musical workout on are show in Fever Room and Bright Light. For the older listener, one can hear the echo’s of David Sylvian and King Crimson on the quieter, more ambient moments. Or even Pink Floyd. Ruins evokes the spirits of Morrison et al.
Really good albums have a tendency to create their own worlds. So the eclectic mix of production styles, whether they be earthly or reaching for some celestial heaven, are all valid in this created world, because they drive the song and enhance it. And in my experience, the greatest albums have never served up the mundane, or been a connect the dots exercise. No. They are the ones that are enriched by repeated listening, and are a pleasure and a joy beheld at each visit. What the Flying Horseman have done with this album is to approach it from an intellectual level, and it is one that has worked. As introductions go, Room / Ruins is challenging, but probably the best introduction to their creative world. Glacial, peaceful, and apt. Their own universe.