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Flying Horseman: Wild Eyes

img  Tobias Fischer

In your average kind of Rock music, love is a comfort zone. To Bert Dockx of Flying Horseman, it is a metaphor for something dark, dangerous and existentialist. And while more traditionally-inclined Blues-singers are out to uncover the naked truth, Dockx wants to cut straight through the skin and rip out the nightmares feeding from his flesh like bloated maggots. His compositions lead listeners down spiralling staircases into a mind teeming with thoughts of impossible cravings, fear and revenge. His lyrics are like burning bushes in an otherwise pitchblack desert, epiphanies of everything you always wanted to bury, block out and forget. Hate is a virtue in his world. Hope is an illusion. And where there once was faith, there now is nothing but regret. The weight of his themes may sometimes make Dockx sound like a preacher. But in reality, he is a man entirely liberated from belief: In his songs, there is never any sense of time, no biblical act of creation and divine resolution, neither a beginning nor a day of last reckoning. Just an infinite vacuum, sucking every instant into an intangible past, where it can no longer be changed, but lives on like a painful memory, ready to be analysed, dissected and mourned.

You wouldn't expect this man to write regular Rock- or Blues-songs. Quite consequentially, there are but two kind of pieces to be found on Wild Eyes: Bleeding ballads built around circling guitar licks and otherwordly atmospherics, which will start from quietude and then gradually build into bitter storms. And raw, angry and unchanneled explosions of fuzz, distortion and pounding drums. As if to further underline the turmoil of the lyrics, both are taking turns on the album, toppling their audience from one emotional extreme into the next. There is a striking contrast, too, between the frontman's unconditional, uninhibited soulbearing and the calm and machine-like efficiency and precision of the quintet working in his back. One might even call it a war: Initially, Dockx's voice will reside comfortably on top, resonating against a space filled with solitude and silence. Slowly but surely, however, the band are catching up on him, growing in volume and density, staccatoed riffs and muffled percussion conjuring up a tidal wave of pure, majestic sound. This, in short, is music about one man's struggle with the world - and rather than working as a valve, offering deliverance or promising redemption, it merely serves, at best, to see things the way they really are.

According to the credits, these tracks were all recorded live and it tells: There is a palpable anxiety, nervousness and intensity to the music, which can only be found in the immediate interaction of an ensemble of musicians colliding with each other in the moment. It is in instances like these, too, that the meaning of the music and the subconscious wisdom of the words reveal themselves both to them and their audience like sudden epiphanies. „Heap“, for example, paints a coolly delivered portrait of the protagonist's withdrawal into a realm of pure ideas, where body and mind are separated and the latter starts constructing a reality of its own: „On my great big heap I sit and watch the years go by/ On my great big heap, familiar faces killers in disguise/ From my great big heap I can see the deep sea and it's calling for me/ On my big great heap I fall asleep and my universe dies.“ The Flying Horseman answer this statement of detachment with a ferocious outburst of energy in an attempt of turning the tide. But their effort is in vain: On „Feather“, which opens with a long, ghostly upwards-glissando but then submits itself to a single, perpetually repeated bass line resignedly falling eight semitones before returning to the starting position, their backing rather feels like Syssiphus rolling up his rock to the top of the hill, as Dockx prays for a drop of real emotion in a world playing it safe.

It is a mantra, that keeps returning throughout the entire work. Even though the closing, eight-minute title track, with its irregularly pulsating metrics and powerful chorus has all the appearance of an untying of the knot, the album's common denominator is that life is a game of Russian roulette that can not be won by keeping the golden mean – on a long enough time line, chances for survival are always zero. The awareness of his own mortality, even though never explicitly mentioned, is pervasive on this album through Dockx's hunger for life. He is not one of those „people in a jungle, afraid to lose their minds, hoping that their every move is pure and kind.“ Rather, his eyes are wild, his gaze filled with desire, his every move part of a search for passion. He is willing to tell lies, if necessary. He will set his body on fire just to feel the heat. And he will rather throw himself in front of a train than end up standing on the same platform forever. Wild Eyes is about love that knows no cure. Love that can not be contained. Love that demands to be seen and tasted right here, right now. About love that will not save anyone. Love that will not come to pass. Love that hides in the past and in the chinks of the walls. Bad love. Deadly love. And it is about realising that there is never such a thing as cause without effect, a high without depressions, a future without sacrifice.

So yes, these are songs about love. But they are also dirty and extremely painful. That, of course, is the unavoidable consequence of staying clear of comfort zones: You can't expect to cut into naked skin without spilling some blood.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Flying Horseman
Homepage: Conspiracy Records

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