I Break Horses share live session recording + video for ‘Death Engine’

I Break Horses press photo
Photo credit: Fredrik Balck

With their new album ‘Warnings’ due for release this Friday via Bella Union, and having previously shared videos for Death EngineI’ll Be The Death Of You and Neon Lights, I Break Horses have shared a live session recording of lead track Death Engine. The recording is accompanied by a beautifully-shot outdoor video. Listen and watch the live video clip via YouTube below.

If I Break Horses’ third album holds you in its grip like a great film, it’s no coincidence. Faced with making the follow-up to 2014’s plush ‘Chiaroscuro,’ I Break Horses’s Maria Lindén decided to take the time to make something different, with an emphasis on instrumental, cinematic music. As she watched a collection of favourite films on her computer (sound muted) and made her own soundtrack sketches, these sonic workouts gradually evolved into something more: “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” says Lindén, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.” 

That album is ‘Warnings,’ an intimate and sublimely expansive return that, as its recording suggests, sets its own pace with the intuitive power of a much-loved movie. And, as the title suggests, the sumptuous sound worlds – dreamy mellotrons, haunting loops, analogue synths – and layered lyrics crackle with immersive dramatic tensions on many levels. 

“It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.” 

As Lindén notes, the process of making ‘Warnings’ involved different kinds of dramas. “It has been some time in the making. About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home…” 

Yet the pay-off for her long-haul immersion is clear from statement-of-intent album opener Turn, a waltzing kiss-off to an ex swathed in swirling synths over nine emotive minutes. On Silence, Lindén suggests deeper sorrows in the interplay of serene surface synths, hypnotic loops and elemental images: when she sings “I feel a shiver,” you feel it, too. Elsewhere, on three instrumental interludes, Lindén’s intent to experiment with sound and structure is clear.

Meanwhile, there are art-pop songs here more lush than any she has made. I’ll Be the Death of You occupies a middle ground between Screamedelica and early OMD, while Neon Lights brings to mind Kraftwerk on Tron’s light grid. I Live At Night slow-burns like a song made for night-time LA drives; Baby You Have Travelled for Miles without Love in Your Eyes is an electronic lullaby spiked with troubling needle imagery. Death Engine’s dark-wave dream-pop provides an epic centerpiece of sorts, before the vocoder hymnal of closer Depression Tourist arrives like an epiphany, the clouds parting after a long, absorbing journey. 

For Lindén, ‘Warnings’ is a remarkable re-routing of a journey begun when I Break Horses’s debut album, ‘Hearts’ (2011), drew praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Independent and others for its luxurious grandeur and pulsing sense of art-pop life. With the electro-tangents of 2014’s ‘Chiaroscuro,’ Lindén forged a new, more ambitious voice with total confidence. A

A new friend on ‘Warnings’ is US producer/mixing engineer Chris Coady, whose graceful way with dense sound (credits include Beach House, TV on the Radio) was not the sole reason Lindén invited him to mix the album. 

“Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures.’ And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.” If making ‘Warnings’ was a slow process, so be it: that steady gestation was a price worth paying for its lavish accretions of detail and meaning, where secrets aplenty await listeners eager to immerse themselves. 

“Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music,” Lindén says. “And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more ‘efficient’. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!” 

Happily, ‘Warnings’ provides all the incentives required. 

I Break Horses Warnings cover artwork

‘Warnings’ track listing
1. Turn
2. Silence
3. l a r m
4. I’ll Be The Death of You
5. d e n l i l l a p å s e a v l y c k a
6. The Prophet
7. Neon Lights
8. I Live at Night
9. Baby You Have Travelled For Miles Without Love in Your Eyes
10. Death Engine
11. a b s o l u t a m o l l p u n k t e n
12. Depression Tourist 

Pre-order ‘Warnings’ here