Just by mere chance the one time in the last year I’m on Twitter looking through my feed I see a tweet from Death Waltz Originals guru Spencer Hickman talking about how great this album Horse Follows Darkness is by Delia Gonzalez. I believe the line that stood out to me was “pure blissed out synth heaven”. I couldn’t NOT slam my money down on the digital counter and buy it, so Bandcamp was visited and monies were exchanged. Well it arrived last week and Delia Gonzalez and Spencer Hickman did not disappoint. Horse Follows Darkness, the new album by the Cuban-American New York artist Delia Gonzalez and released via DFA Records is indeed pure blissed out synth heaven. It’s also cinematic in its relatively short scope. At just around 30 minutes in length and consisting of 5 tracks, Horse Follows Darkness blends both the concept of the American western and dystopian future into a compelling LP.
There’s a repetitiveness to the pieces on Gonzalez’ new record. A looping and loping feeling, like Steve Reich on an analog synth bender. Gonzalez likes to paint her musical pictures in analog paints and circuitry, giving her music an aged feel. “In Through The Light” lays out gauzy synth structures over a looping melody. It plays on both light and dark moods, covering the scope from Tangerine Dream to Steve Reich in the course of six minutes. “Hidden Song” sounds like dystopian disco. It’s propulsive rhythm, piano chords, and squiggly synth lines mesh into a blissed-out track. “Roulette” is built around another piano line that morphs into yet another looping piano melody with synthesizers slowly rising from the depths. There’s something hypnotic about this track. It seems to hold secrets within its musical walls.
The story behind the record is an interesting one, and one which is explained here:
The title is taken from a werewolf genre film her 8 year old son Wolfgang had created. At this time, Wolfgang also turned Delia onto a genre of cinema she had always resisted – the American Western.
Delia explains that what she observed “was all relevant – the album is based on our personal experience of moving back to America (from Berlin) and the journey that followed. The record is a manifestation of that, and what one creates for themselves under the given circumstances. Coming back to America, I felt like a foreigner and NYC / America felt like the Wild West. Most Westerns from the 1960s to the present have revisionist themes. Many were made by emerging major filmmakers who saw the Western as an opportunity to expand their criticism of American society and values into
a new genre.”
Listening to Horse Follows Darkness you do get a sense of journey. Returning to a place you once called home only to feel like a complete stranger to those things once familiar and inviting. “Horse Follows Darkness” puts some of the fear and uncertainty of being a stranger in a strange land into your head. It’s both beguiling and disconcerting. A lilting musical whisper into your ear. “Vesuvius” moves from the American west into the final frontier of space, all pulsing synth and dance floor percussiveness. It seems a fitting ending to such a moving musical journey.
Horse Follows Darkness is a stunning record. Delia Gonzalez has captured beautifully the uncertainty of the unknown and that fear in the pit of your stomach when starting over. It’s also, as Spencer Hickman so eloquently stated, “pure blissed out synth heaven.”