Carpet of Horses – It’s Only Light (EP) (self-released)


Carpet of Horses, whose name is a homage to the late Red Red Meat, isn’t so much a band but a collaborative recording project spread over three continents. Or more specifically, Carpet of Horses is the recording project of songs written by Toronto born, Berlin based singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Tobin James Stewart.

What began as a recording experiment in a Toronto bedroom in 2006 has since developed into what it is today: a vehicle for fully-realized songwriting and production with international collaborations. The first release was 2011’s self-titled EP followed by a a double a-side EP ‘Mountains/Dust’ released in the  Spring of last year.

Post-folk is a term that has been thrown around before when describing the music of Carpet of Horses and, well, it’s quite a fitting tag for the new 6-song EP, ‘It’s Only Light’. It should come as no surprise that the most notable influence is Red Red Meat, followed closely by Sparklehorse. Influence from J. Mascis, Built To Spill, and Bon Iver are also evident. Meanwhile, Tobin’s hushed, almost nonchalant, vocals act as another texture or instrument more so than a lead vocal.

The EP opens with “Almagest”, a 48 second atmospheric intro made up of swells leads into the EP’s title track. “‘It’s Only Light” is a dark and atmospheric number but also the most direct and hooky. Centered around acoustic guitar and vocals, it is met with power-chords during the chorus recalling Smashing Pumpkins circa ‘Siamese Dream’, melodically, sonically, and in mood (think “Soma”).

“Gloss” is a gorgeous number and equal parts grungey, dreamy, and shoegazey. Simultaneously inviting and engulfing, its sonic textures that wash over like waves.

“Oblomov” changes the mood dramatically and it’s here (and final song “The Rider”) that the folk influence is most evident and relevant. Beautifully recorded with rich piano chords, sweet acoustic guitars, light percussion, and whistles, “Oblomov” actually calls to mind “Cheers Darlin”by Damian Rice‘ in its chord progression and mood.

It seems that the modus operani for Carpet of Horses is that once the template for the song is set, a mood is evoked and the song unravels like a movie score than a traditional rock/pop song, varying little (if at all) in the way of dynamic or key instead developing textures over time (just listen to the final 30 seconds of “Stars On Montsou“).

The most dynamic and moving of the songs is the EP highlight “Stars on Montsou”, which hits the mark by harnessing and combining all the textures that make Carpet of Horses’ sound intriguing.

‘It’s Only Light’ by Carpet of Horses is available as a download via the Carpet of Horses bandcamp on a “pay-what-you-like” system.

Listen to the EP in its entirety below: