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Phantom Horse is the duo of Ulf Schutte (aka Alien Radio, also involved with Datashock, Aosuke, Black to Comm...) who deals with the modular side and Niklas Dommaschk who takes care of guitar, synth and electric piano. I’m liking this record very much. There’s a load of super chill modular loops massaging my ears right now and they’re done very tastefully, with a pulsating in ...

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Phantom Horse by Phantom Horse
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9/10 Mike Staff review, 17 July 2012

Phantom Horse is the duo of Ulf Schutte (aka Alien Radio, also involved with Datashock, Aosuke, Black to Comm...) who deals with the modular side and Niklas Dommaschk who takes care of guitar, synth and electric piano. I’m liking this record very much. There’s a load of super chill modular loops massaging my ears right now and they’re done very tastefully, with a pulsating insistent rhythm and some sweet trebly synth melodies over the top. Elsewhere there’s some very tasteful minimal use of guitar and drums to help propel things along a little.

I guess Peaking Lights is a pretty obvious and unavoidable reference point when you’re listening to tasteful modular-based electro acoustic minimal pop stuff like this but it’s far from a carbon copy, with more of a deadpan krauty coldness to the loops, but no less melody and character. According to the press release this is influenced by Moondog, which seems like a bit of a strange reference for a record like this, but when you think about it the weird repetitive polyrhythms and simple melodies of the late, great Louis Hardin aren’t a million miles away from what results when you layer modular synth loops together so I do understand the comparison, particularly on the more mystical-sounding numbers like ‘Rongo Rongo’.

Everything on this record is beautifully paced and the synth tones sound gorgeous. When it does make appearances, the guitar is quite processed and synthetic-sounding so overall the record has quite a pure synth sound to it despite not strictly being pure synth. I think ‘Kateshi’ is my favourite of the cuts here, starting out super minimal with some glacially filtered rhythmic synth twitches before slowly building into a rich sea of churning loops, and then there’s some great bassy drones introduced and some wacky synth tinkering which takes over as the loops fade out at the end. Well classy. I hadn’t heard this pair’s work before and this whole record is a lovely summery, chilled synth surprise. Get involved.


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