Review: Barn Sour – One Trick Pony (Staighre, Mar 11)

Is there any act with more of a paradoxical mixture of obscurity and ubiquity than Barn Sour? Not exactly likely your next-door neighbor would have a copy of Conté for Dick ‎in their frequent listening stack, but ask anyone at a niche record shop or sparsely attended basement show and they’ll almost certainly have at least heard some of the buzz, because the snorts, neighs, and whinnies of Winnipeg artist Pat Klassen’s most fascinating project have quickly shaken the underground music community to its core. That was true even before the release of One Trick Pony on Matthew Sullivan’s new-ish imprint Staighre, but now, with what I can already confidently call their best work yet, Barn Sour has branded themselves as an unmatched and truly terrifying sonic force. The first two tracks immediately introduce the diverse palette of the release, a seamless amalgam of elements and emotions previously explored: weighty, fraught tape ambience; impressionistic piano and organ resonance; queasy delirium; incoherence both cathartic and horrifying. “Gouch Call” is an early standout with its strangled sax babble and guttural gargles, conjuring what is perhaps the fullest realization of the project’s consistently indescribable atmosphere—that is, until “Peace, Be Still (Mane Mix),” which is easily both the most frightening music I’ve ever heard and my new pick for favorite Barn Sour track. The unnamed contributor whose manic laughter graced the A side of horses fucked over the head with bricks returns to take part in a hair-raising dual-vocal attack, chilling shrieks and startling pitch-doubled shouts and feverish giggling all trampling over the ersatz slur of a mortally wounded phonograph. Even with such a towering precedent “Foal Dub” closes things out perfectly, hanging up the bridle in a loose, careless, apathetically ambiguous way that makes it clear one, two, ten listens won’t be nearly enough. I’ll check back in at #100; stay saddled.

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