It’s little surprise that A Formal Horse turned a few heads at this year’s Resonance Festival.
They harness pulverising riffs and winsome Canterburyisms via an astonishingly nimble sound. Though short, their debut EP feels and sounds substantial due to the quality writing, allied to the punch of a dry and direct mix by engineer Rob Aubrey (IQ, Transatlantic). Skilfully driven by Mike Stringfellow’s crisp drumming, Russell Mann’s bass pushes hard against the fast-moving figures hurled by guitarist Benjamin Short. Abrupt changes of tempo and direction abound, with adrenalised, Crimsonesque complexity interfacing with more languid, light-filled chords. Those contrasts are beautifully exploited by vocalist Emily Tulloh, deadpanning the comedic wordplay of the oddly metered I Lean or turning up the firepower as words flirt with Proustian reveries during Rosensage’s stinging barrage. The ability to turn on a dime with such élan says a lot about their musicianship. Yet in addition to their dexterity, A Formal Horse possess warmth and charm. They’re returning to the studio later this year, and we can’t wait for their next recording to cross the finishing line.** Sid Smith**