As if Horseback’s discography wasn’t daunting enough—2013’s A Plague of Knowing compilation filled three fearless LPs with nothing but singles, splits, and rarities—the newly released Dead Ringers finds Jenks Miller once again reshaping his elusive sound. While repetition is still at the root of every recording, lulling the listener into a stupefied state, Miller has never come this close to making Factory-issued post-punk before. Admittedly, this is the kind of post-punk that only exists in the Horseback universe, a shifty place where the dark side of the human condition is explored, peppered with allusions to everyone from Carl Jung, David Cronenberg (the album’s named after one of his creeptastic films), and Joseph Campbell to Joy Division, Coil, and This Heat.
So, no, the horse-riding death goddess on this album cover is not a heavy-metal nod, signalling a return to Miller’s blustery, blackened roots. Much like his Music For Snowdrifts EP, Dead Ringers is more of a meditative journey, letting minimal synth lines and circuitous rhythms lead the way instead of screams, screeches, and squeals. No wonder Miller has been name-dropping folks like The Field, Terry Riley, and Laurie Spiegel lately. Now all we need is an electro-folk effort from Miller’s other North Carolina band (Mount Moriah) to bring things full circle.