Horses Brawl's latest album ‘Ruminantia’ was released in 2012. Please see the reviews in the column on the right and below...
The duo of Laura Cannell (fiddles/recorders) and Andre Bosman (Indian Harmonium/guitar
Recent highlights include airplay on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Norfolk and filming for ITV’s ‘Ade in Britain’, (Adrian Edmondson’s British food and culture series). Recent performances have included Cambridge Folk Festival and The Union Chapel in London as well as supporting Martin Carthy, Mike Heron & Trembling Bells. Upcoming performances include: Milton Keynes International Festival (July) and Folk East (August). As well as touring widely throughout the UK and further afield at major Arts Festivals and Folk Festivals Horses Brawl have been editor's picks in The Guardian, Time Out, The Independent, have featured in Muso and fROOTs and have been broadcast live in concert for BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, The Early Music Show and In Tune.
"Mysterious, energetic and rustic: sometimes kinda Third Ear, sometimes kinda minimalist, but invariably intriguing" fROOTS
“Something wild, primitive and creative can be felt from within.” Psychedelicfolk.com
“Reminiscent of Philip Glass’s droning, haunting minimalism.” BEARDED Magazine
"Elegant, intricate and utterly engaging" EASTERN DAILY PRESS
“Exciting virtuosity and sonic imagination” DERBY TELEGRAPH
”Tremendous energy, virtuosity and verve” SONGLINES
"A truly memorable sound" BRIGHT YOUNG FOLK
“A plethora of finely crafted music entwines control with improvisation – in the same moment it’s ancient and embryonic, disciplined and liberated” FOLKWORDS
“The nature of folk music has always made it open to embellishment, but Horses Brawl is taking the genre to new levels" THE GUARDIAN
REVIEWS - Ruminantia (2012)
The album was recorded using single takes, and the resultant sound is therefore both impressive and raw, unimpeded by over-production or perfectionism. That is not to say there is anything rough though, this is a striking set of tunes played with skill.
Laura and Andre play an unusual set of instruments: fiddles, recorder, guitars and harmonium, which allows for some curious combinations such as the hardanger fiddle and Indian harmonium that appear on Brid one Brere. They combine in a percussive piece that meditates around a theme in a slightly hypnotic manner.
Trip to Paris is a different affair entirely, and an upbeat opener to the album. It is based on a traditional English country dance tune, but the harmonium draws the music towards the continent, particularly in the repeated emphasising low notes.
The Medieval and Renaissance periods are well represented with the Renaissance alto recorder on Onse Vader and Magister particularly well played. Making recorders enjoyable to listen to is mean feat if the listener has ever had to sit through a school concert, but these are a delight.
The music Horses Brawl have chosen is well-traveled, some in distance, like the atmospheric final piece Skolion from Greece, and others in time. Yet, the combination of different origins works well to produce an album that combines authentic historical playing with intriguing, innovative musical combinations".
1. Trip to Paris
"Over the last decade, Laura Cannell and various collaborators have explored medieval folk and church music as Horses Brawl. Their fourth album marks the debut of a new line-up, with Cannell's conservatory training and self-taught folk chops allied to the more experimental background of Andre Bosman, who, as Hoofus, makes so-called "sine wave and sample based music".
This series of duets alternates between contemplative religiosity and - when the fiddles pick up the tempo a notch or two - the occasional, more celebratory, mode. The tracks on this album are virtuoso improvisations based on fragments of ancient tunes.
The drones of Bosman's harmonium create a spooky mood, while over the rhythms of his guitar and acoustic bass guitar, Cannell overlays melodies on recorders, hardanger fiddle (an 8/9-stringed violin, rather than the average four, used to play traditional Norwegian music), and the wonderfully named crumhorn (a Renaissance woodwind instrument).
The jaunty fiddle of opener 'Trip to Paris' is about as upbeat as the album gets, while the pace tends towards the funereal on occasions. The harmonium is reminiscent of Philip Glass's droning, haunting minimalism; while melodies are layered in a way that sometimes, to modern ears, hints at dissonance.
Horses Brawl have featured on Radio Three's Late Junction and received an Arts Council grant, and their music has a whiff of the uncompromisingly highbrow. This is pretty austere stuff, without much of the joyousness evinced by their peers, festival favourites A Hawk and a Hacksaw.
However, if you want a break from trend-chasing, too cool for school indie scenesters, or bombastic acts determined to throw the kitchen sink at you, these missives from an impossibly distant era could be just the ticket. This is musical detox, the auditory equivalent of a bracingly cold shower or a long run after a night on the sauce."
Via a deliberately restricted palette of sonorities, rhythms, pitch and range, and subversively non-standard techniques, with fiddle scarpings, knocks and rattles and a bowed guitar, the listener is led into a state of menaced trance. The pervasive drones render many of the cadences points of unrest, while sounds of breathing, or mutterings – like the noise of insects or the rustle of feathers – envelop and corrupt the innocence of the original melodies. ‘Brid one Brere’, reputedly the oldest know English love song, can stand as an example. The tune is sketched out, its texture is thickened by parallel open fifths, before it collapses into a haunted, scrubbing ostinato, with harmonium and violin frantic, almost despairing, until the piece simply disappears. Even “Isabella Dansa Alta’, the most overtly dance-like track of all, has the air of a fever-dream. There is little comfort in this music, but it’s a powerful, absorbing, and oddly cleansing experience.”