Review: Sean Breadin - Horse-Head in Winterland (2006)


artist: Sean Breadin
release: Horse-Head in Win­ter­land
format: CD-R, MP3
year of release: 2006
label: Plough­myth Inter­na­tional (CD-R), Woven Wheat Whis­pers (MP3)
dur­a­tion: 70:28

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Sean Breadin (a.k.a. Sedayne) released this album for free in the winter months of 2006/2007, in keep­ing with the theme of the album. It is now for sale reg­u­larly at Woven Wheat Whis­pers as MP3 and through Plough Myth as a CD-R. Horse-head in Win­ter­land con­tains over sev­enty minutes of impro­vised “music for hurdy gurdy, jews harps & frame drums”. Don’t expect any melod­ies or famil­iar song struc­tures, or even folk - which does some­times pop up in Sedayne’s works - this is totally detached music, often atonal or per­haps ‘ori­ental’ to the West­ern ear, and more like a prim­or­dial musical ritual than any­thing else. If that doesn’t scare you, do read on.

As the sub­title sug­gests, this album cen­ters around the play­ing of the hurdy-gurdy, jew’s harp and frame drum. ‘Horse head’ is another name for the hurdy-gurdy, because of its shape, and the theme of the album com­bines the instru­ment with the sea­son. The com­bin­a­tion of these instru­ments gives a pecu­liar res­ult, to say the least, but cer­tainly not unin­ter­est­ing. While this album is quite long, the music is very hyp­notic, because of the con­tinu­ous hurdy-gurdy tones, and espe­cially when the frame drums (bodhrán and a home-made ‘dam­as­cus square drum’) pick up the pace. If you allow your­self to be entranced by these tracks, you’re in for an oth­er­worldly jour­ney.

This music is very hard to com­pare to any­thing else. While Breadin’s pro­ject works (like Venereum Arvum and Eleanor’s Vis­ceral Tomb), per­haps come closest, it is still rather dif­fer­ent. There­fore, I also find it dif­fi­cult to recom­mend this to listen­ers of any par­tic­u­lar kind of music. Let’s just say that if you are open towards impro­vised and strange music played on tra­di­tional acous­tic instru­ments, this album is very much worth check­ing out. But if you value famili­ar­ity and a tra­di­tional approach to music, you’d best pass this one by. This is not an album that I would play often, as it some­how feels out of place in the con­text of a mod­ern home. But, at cer­tain times, eyes closed and option­ally intox­ic­ated, the horse-head reaches me.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. terre d’hiver (19:25)
2. janus dans le terre de mer­veille (4:49)
3. écoutez la roue de la mort (5:56)
4. vieux danser d’homme (7:11)
5. la crâne de glace (7:23)
6. chemin d’hiver avec des péler­ins (6:15)
7. win­ter­land (19:29)

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