Clear Horizon Clear Horizon

[Kranky; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie rock, post-rock
Others: Low, Yo La Tengo, Saturday Looks Good to Me, David Lynch

I’m beginning to think the trickle-down My Bloody Valentine theory is a constant trickle. The influence of MBV has been so widespread and so durable in the past 12 years or so that it seems as though the indie rock lexicon has changed forever, where the band name is used as often as an adjective as a noun. Comprised of Jessica Bailiff and David Pearce, Clear Horizon continues the MBV Tradition with its eponymous debut. But to label this duo as MBV knockoffs would be highly flawed. Yes, it has the reverberated everything and a similar vocal mode, but this music is darker, quieter, and completely detached. Shifting from moody, acoustic-driven numbers to wintry white noise, Clear Horizon evokes the kind of grumpy-slash-eerie disposition of Twin Peaks. In fact, this music could’ve very well been released in the early to mid-90s without being any more noticed than it is now.

Subtlety is key here: subtle guitars, subtle vocals, subtle mood swings, subtle dissonance, subtle experimentation, subtle dynamic shifts — this minimalist approach clearly directs Clear Horizon’s sense of musical agency. The entire album is quiet and driven by soft guitar and keyboard, while the vocals slowly disappear and reappear like a pulsating sound wave, or diarrhea. As such, using the word "agency" seems misguided. It’s more passive than active, reactionary than activist. It has this almost deadpan sensibility that carves out its own autonomous domain in the decidedly glutted genre. As mood-specific as the music is, however, it remains exoteric, appealing to anyone who is willing to take on a world-weary darkness through the ears. Those looking for dread should gather around. Those looking for something unique and original should walk away slowly.

1. Watching the Sea
2. Death's Dance
3. For Days
4. Sunrise Drift
5. Millennium Blues
6. Distortion Song
7. A Child's Eyes
8. Dusk
9. Open Road