War Hoarse is the moniker for concept artist Mark Beaver who recently released his first album entitled Worn Horrors. Beaver declares that the project was “inspired by the kitschy, once-a-year Halloween jams of 50's and 60's surf and garage rock bands.” Interestingly enough this description is quite representative of the music.
That being said this isn't an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination. The production is extremely lo-fi to the point where the vocals are almost completely inaudible at times and the music sounds as if it’s being played at your neighbor’s house. When you do hear Beaver he sings in a very low register that is competitive with Tom Waits. As uninviting as some as these songs seem to be at first there are also a number of things that happen throughout the record that make it appealing to those who enjoy something a wee bit scary and experimental.
The first song on the album is called “The Strange Ghost Speaks,” which opens with a repetitive, nausea-inducing organ line that is backed by ominous vocal “oohhs.” Beaver proceeds to talk more than sing over the music only adding to the creepiness of the song. “Strange Lyings” is where we start to see some of the influence from surf rock. It’s hard to discern any particular parts in the song. The percussion, organ, and guitars combine into a semi-transparent block of white noise. One of the highlights on the album was “The Bayleaf Mummy,” which introduces a hypnotic guitar line with a spliced vocal sample. It is also arguably the best vocal performance on the album (on top of that you could clearly hear his voice on this one).
The best song on the album is “Colin’s Theme,” which is built on 1950’s surf theme that sounds like it was right out of Hawaii Five-0. He contorts the whole melody through a filter, which give it a dreamlike quality. Beaver closes with VCalt, which is a substantial song that again is bursting with white noise and trudges through the melodies.
Worn Horrors isn't for everyone but will find a place with those who enjoy music that is off the beaten path. I just really wish I could understand what he was saying.
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