The process of making an album can sometimes be a battle worthy of Sisyphus. You like something. Then you remember how much you preferred the demo version. Then you fight with yourself, bring the ideas and everybody else chimes in. That’s one layer done, another 110 or so to go. Now imagine that process extrapolated, amplificated and saturated with ideas and you end with the Gordian Knot of Prog Nouveau created by the barbones chingones from Trojan Horse.
Just by listening to ‘Jurapsyche Park’, the album opener, you know where those three years creating this album went into. The song has enough ideas to be beget and nurture an entire album in less than five minutes. Found sounds, electronics, prog and punk rock fuse together like Voltron (the fifteen vehicle one, not the shitty lion one) and create a fierce paladin of the genre.
‘Sesame’ is more straightforward, but a straightforward song by Trojan Horse is akin to saying that old highway near Mam Tor is a little skewed. Allow me to illustrate:
The layers persist, even as weathering and the Shivering Mountain continue to come down hard on it. That’s how the music of Trojan Horse is: heavily cemented layers that still resist, even when fragmented down to individual tracks.
‘Interlude’ is the proggy harbinger of ‘Fire! Fire!’, the album closer that had its own EP a while back (our review) and it gets you ready to the first Megalodon lurking in this album : ‘Scuttle’. Like an out of control tilt-a-whirl that launches itself into December night skies, we live through a vertiginous mix of rock that morphs itself into a carnival ride opera from Hades. It could sound like this is a disjointed stream of consciousness Pritt-sticked together as a Prog Nouveau ransom letter, but no, this whole collage makes sense. A lot of it, actually.
Even if the Quatermass-style running times make these songs such a trip, it’s the nuanced moments what really spice it all up. ‘See me at the Crow bridge’ could’ve been a cool cue in Children from the Stones, ‘Centrelude’ a background ditty in a Jon Pertwee episode of Dr. Who (“Chap with wings. Five Riffs, Rapid!“) and ‘Outerlude’ would’ve fitted just right in The Omega Factor. There’s a decisive influence of 70s music here that remains that: an influence, not a cookie mold.
‘World turned upside down’ probably was a nightmare to record as you can feel how Trojan Horse are aching to break out the faster time signatures they deftly handle. It’s straightforward, almost folk pop but nevertheless abandons “normality*” with the cool instrumental atmospheres laid by the end.
‘Hypocrite’s Hymn’ is the other Megalodon (I like sharks) in the album and this one is worth the price of admission alone. An insane loop that goes through emotions, musical ideas and incense-rich atmospheres. It’s unnerving but delivers just like a John Wyndham book would (read The Kraken Wakes, kids.)
‘Death and the mad queen’ takes a sombre note and looms it into a sparse trip. Still relishing into the creepy atmosphere of ‘Hypocrite’s Hymn’, it eases you down for the triumphal march that is ‘Behemoth’. Like the Astral Stegosaurus (I called him Pepito) in the front cover, it marches into infinity, each riff booming with its monstrous stride.’Paper Bells’, the lovely single released early in 2014, is like the pastoral hymn sung to the legend of Pepito (the Astral Stegosaurus that stole our hearts.) Your palate is cleansed, we are back into normality.
But not for long! ‘Outerlude’ segues into ‘Fire! Fire!’ and your final disposition after World Turned Upside Down should be “Gee willickers! That was a real trip and I didn’t have to leave the sofa!”
The wait is over. Trojan Horse delivered the defining Prog Nouveau album. #IFOWONPRO!
Words: Sam J. Valdés López
*What the fuck is normality, anyways?