X Reviews

"'She Want' is the most fun song about sex in recent memory"
DJ Earball, Sound Roots (2005)

"Horace X continues to develop their uniquely wacky mélange of bouncy funhouse sounds: ragga-style vocals, sax & clarinet honks, furious fiddling, and irresistible dance beats... good clean head-scratching fun"
KZSU Zookeeper (2005)

"A less likely, modern-day super group... Horace X might be stepping back from the madness of society. But the band seems to be stepping into a musical madness of its own creation"
Marco Werman, theworld.org (2005)

"It would all be overwhelming and even annoying if it weren't pulled off with as much skill as it is. The production on Strategy is perfect, striking a balance between all of the instruments that favors rhythm above all else but allows every single instrument to get its due. Whether fiddle, keyboard, guitar, or whistle, every instrument is audible and clear as a bell"
Mike Schiller, popmatters.com (2005)

"...this one sparks... which means it sounds like nothing I've heard. Nonstop dance drive, Roma clarinet jazz, violin sans bluegrass or sonata, ragga-flavored because the singer's Jamaican. Plus they named their debut after a medieval trombone normally spelled with one T. A minus"
Robert Christgau, Village Voice, 16 June 2003

"Many groups attempt this kind of fusion on the shaggy fringes of world beat. Few do it as seamlessly as Horace X... The band in performance looked like a writhing cartoon of radioactivity... Dynamic and utopian"
Robert Everet-Green, Canadian Globe and Mail (2004)

"The band, who like to glow in the dark, defy categorisation on any level apart from their fluorescence. They successfully fuse the contemporary sounds of reggae, modern jazz, funky dance and raga with the traditional tunes of Celtic and Asian music... Their energy and opulence on stage demands involuntary dancing from even the most self-conscious of listener.
Wendy Rowe, Red Pages

"Horace X... is like nothing I've heard before. UK-based Horace X puts dancehall, punk, rock, Balkan, club, and other styles into their own personal blender, producing a highly spicy masala. The enhanced CD includes a video of the band, bouncing and spinning in their Day-Glo attire like some Mummenschantz nightmare. But one you want to keep having over and over again. Horace X won't fit easily into any particular genre. But I can’t wait to fit one of their shows into my schedule."
©2003 Scott Allan Stevens, www.earball.net/spintheglobe

"Horace X is group completely "alive", with a minimum of electronics. Though such music as theirs "wall of sound" usually created on driven mad computers. But computers do not know how to behave in the mad world where participants of this destructive collective feel theirself easily and demanded. Improbable impudence. What turns out with such impudence is either full shit or production close to genius. We deal with the second case. Do not approach close to electrodevices after listening. Can burn them. 4 out of 5. Recommended."
Artyom Rondarev, Play Magazine (Russia) 2004

"The intense heat didn't deter people from dancing as hard to Horace X during an afternoon show hard as they did during the bands triumphant stage show Friday. The England club band, dressed in green, orange and red fluoresecent suits- played a mixture of progressive jazz fusion with traces of Celtic and world music anchored by a solid rhythm section and led by a wild female firecracker of a fiddle player wearing a red and yellow headdress."
The Winnipeg Sun (2002)

"Pogoing around the stage, rapping, ranting, playing fiddles like the devil himself was in attendance, all "dressed" up in Hot acid colours and Camo gear...The spirit of a Horace X show is captured very well on their latest album, Sackbutt Folk Spoil Sunday. Definitely off the wall, certainly not the usual, absolutely great fun, what more can I say? Just listen to it and definitely, definitely, definitely catch them live" 
-- Nick Jordan, Adhoc (2001)

"Sometimes an album makes you want to leap around the room even if, like me, your boldest footwork is something like the 'Inertia Two-Step'. Horace X encourage all manner of movement and it's a treat for the ears too. The first time I heard a track was on Andy Kershaw's Radio 3 show and it simply jumped out of the speakers at me. Now the whole cd is still doing it. A rampant mixture of Irish/Indian fiddles, jazzy/Eastern European saxophones, ragga ranting, samples and drumming that propels the whole thing at breakneck pace. It's not just another ragbag of musical styles slung together and underpinned by a set of dance floor beats. In fact, I don't know what it is. But it works wonders. Take my word for it, it is one of the most exciting releases I've heard this year. When the lists are being compiled it'll be in my top ten for 2001. The only thing I'd want now is to see them 'live' and soon."
-- Paul Donnelly, www.tangents.co.uk (2001)

"Getting the fest off to a kicking start this year were the mighty Horace X. Horace flew into their act which exists in a world where the Specials met some folk musicians who stumbled into some Goths, who fell into a bath of luminous paint, emerged to sleep with some rap DJs and came out of the mix as - Horace X! Thank god for that is all I can say and the crowd seemed to agree as the merry gang lifted the audience up and outta there with their hugely energetic, warm and witty and passionate performance. Really, catch them live if you can." -- Cambridge Folk Festival Review

"Engineering a glorious pan-global collision of traditional and contemporary sounds, this Cambridge-based collective are positively shouting out for wider exposure. A high-octane concoction of Irish, Balkan and Indian fiddle tunes, splendidly guttural rap/ragga vocals, sizzling brass licks and pounding percussion grooves, liberally seasoned with reggae, ska, punk, funk and jazz, might sound like a recipe for musical chaos, but these guys stir it all together with brilliantly bold panache, making organic-sounding sense of the unlikeliest musical juxtapositions. Though the in-yer-face pitch of most tracks gets a little too unvarying towards the end, the album's pulsating energy, tight musicianship and freewheeling spirit of adventure pack a tremendously exhilarating punch - and anyone who samples an Anne Widdecombe speech during a pro-hash polemic, as in the wonderfully splenetic "Blind Eye",definitely has my vote."
-- Sue Wilson, Glasgow Sunday Herald

"Here are one of those bands, blissfully void of care and categorisation, the freewheelin' happening samples, scratches and lots of groovy dance ideas with Middle Eastern folk tunes. This really sparks, ideal for party animals and night time people."
-- Simon Jones, fRoots

"This jumped out of the speakers at me and is still doing it. A rampant mixture of Irish/Indian fiddles, Jazzy/Eastern European saxophones, Ragga ranting, samples and drumming that propels the whole thing at breakneck pace. It's not just another ragbag of musical styles slung together and underpinned by a set of dance floor beats. In fact, I don't know what it is. But it works wonders on jaded ears. The opener "Bad Lies" gives you some idea of what to expect ; riffing baritone and tenor saxes from Pete Newman and Hazel Fairbairn's electric fiddle whipping up a demented Balkan/Irish jig over Mark Russell's tricky drum figures. And joining all this, the energetic verbals of Poor White Trash and Terminator Bones rapping and ranting. It tears along and goes into another flat-out routine in "Blind Eye" featuring a vocal sample of, I do believe, Ann Widdecombe's mellifluous tones, which are fortunately elbowed out of the way rapidly by Horace's resident vocalists and steaming sax and fiddle again. Just catch the way Newman's clarinet soars over the ranting voices and drums, for instance, and you'll experience a fraction of the excitement this lot can generate. The mood is slightly cooled down for "Darkness Falls" or at least the rhythms relax a little. Again Newman's clarinet weaves around the massed strings that make me think 'Turkish' as in baths and Delight, I guess. "Dreams - Half Empty" goes full tilt into a neo-Punk style with guest guitarist Neil Byer giving it some thrash alongside the dervish horns and fiddle. An exuberant clash of styles and rhythms. You might think a title like, "Izuaint" refers to an exotic music , dance, refreshment or even the name of a place where such things may happen. Of course, it refers to 'Is you is or is you ain't my baby' , a song from the Jazz age or later.

"Whatever. This has some of the most melodic and percussive playing from Newman and the whole ensemble kicks along in a Balkan Jazz Reggae groove as the refrain is chanted by guest vocalist Cathy Coombs. This is just a sample of what's on offer here on this pre-release copy. Apparently it will be technically polished up for final release. The only thing I'd want now is to see them 'live' and soon."
-- Paul Donnelly, freq.org.uk

"Horace X est une formation originale et vraiment inclassable. Il serait totalement vain d'essayer de mettre la moindre étiquette sur leur musique, tant celle-ci est riche et complexe. Incroyable fusion entre ragga, musiques orientales, reggae, punk et électronique, la « cuisine » du groupe est particulièrement travaillée et nécessite plusieurs écoutes pour l'apprécier à sa juste valeur. « Sackbutt folk spoil Sunday » est leur quatrième enregistrement depuis leur création en 1993. Ce combo de musiciens anglais basé à Cambridge se compose de Mark Russell (compositeur et touche à tout de l'électronique), Hazel Fairbairn (violons), Pete Newman (sax, clarinettes) et Hilary Heyes (danse arabe). La grande nouveauté avec ce dernier disque réside dans l'apport du chant (l'album précédent, « Burst peacock » était quasiment instrumental). Le groupe s'est adjoint les services et performances de deux Dj's rappeurs/tchatcheurs, Terminator Bones et Poor White Trash, qui donnent une coloration plus ragga que les précédentes productions. Les influences restent cependant les mêmes : musiques arabes (« Darkness falls »), indiennes (« U.K. cosmopolitan sound »), ragga (« Problems »), punk (« Dreams »), jazz, dub, avec une utilisation très efficace des cuivres et des effets électroniques. Voir le groupe sur scène est semble t-il une expérience inoubliable : leurs tenues futuristes fluos sont particulièrement soignées et leur show est une réussite totale. Jetez-vous vite sur ce fantastique album et découvrez la folle musique d'Horace X. Pour avoir un aperçu du look étonnant des musiciens, ne pas rater la visite de leur site . Vous pourrez y écouter des extraits de disques et avoir une multitude de renseignements sur leurs activités, ainsi que des liens vers d'autres sites musicaux à thèmes."
-- www.radio-sauvagine.com

"Like a cross between James Brown and Ivo Papasov"
-- Glastonbury Festival Programme (1994)

"For all its radical complexity, this is not music for solitary contemplation it is 'good time' music, in the very positive, enlightened way that reggae can be, lively but peaceful. It's very sexy, even without the stage dancers, but in a life-affirming, non-competitive fashion that's the very opposite of the Loaded lad meets raunchy bird on the make scenario. It's peace and love, indeed, and it's sharp and it's funky.
It's festival music; it's summer party music. Get it for your own party or festival. Play it at home and before long there'll be a festival in your living room, even if you're the only punter."
-- Rock 'n' Reel (1999)

"Swirling Eastern European fiddles laid over bouncing upbeat technobeats to produce a sound that is cheerfully eccentric I hate to say it, but Horace X have a way of making house music sound interesting. Weirdly wonderful,this lot are certainly a class act."
-- Leon Hughes, Varsity (1995)

"...Cheeky, Accomplished, danceable and fun. And a million miles from Blue. Which has got to be a good thing."
-- Toby Venables, Adhoc (1999)

"...Il donne un spectacle sensoriel dans un live de house qui nous fait faire le tour de planete. Melant des sonorities d'Asie, tziganes ou celtiques, ils se croisent sur la route du ragga de la danse orientale ou d'une drum 'n' bass devastatrice. La world music poussee a son extreme."
-- Fleche D'or Cafe, Paris (2001)

".. Infectiously danceable and highly recommended...It is one of the very few interesting dance CDs in my collection."
-- David Crozier, Cambridge Weekly News

"...Fun - techno. Techno-narodnjaci. Melodije s istoka, Vritmovi sa zapada... Bubnjevi, udaralijke, kompjutori,samplovi, violine, cello, bas, gitara, sax, trombon, truba..."
-- Arkzin Magazine, Zagreb.

"...Virtuoze vioolpartijen en jazzy blazer-arrangementent worden met 'far-out' samples verrijkt tot een soort" -- 'Comedy Capers in Istanbul"
-- Melkweg World Roots Festival

"This British combo appears on stage in futuristic fluorescent outfits, portending a music way beyond classification. The group proposes an incredible fusion of Irish or Balkan violin played like it was possessed and rappers tossing out a destroy raga, all wrapped up in electronic hues, punk attitude and silky Indian and Arab coloration. Any more festive and it would be reckless endangerment."
-- Montreal Jazz Festival Programme (2002)

The night closed with what might be the most unusual group I have seen at the festival, Horace X. And I mean seen. First came the bass player, in a black shirt, with fluorescent orange suspenders and pants. Then the drummer -- coat, pants, and hat all made of alternating two inch bands of fluorescent green and black. The sax player wore more green, coat and hat -­ and, of course, shades. Then the fiddler bounded in, her dress bright orange and clinging tight, with a single line of black wriggling its way down...and a headpiece made of dozens of scraps of what looked like crinoline in various fluorescents.

Then they hit the music; reggae beats, jazz sax, rock bass, and a fiddler alternating between Middle Eastern, Celtic, heavily electrified prog sounds, and echo-effect strangeness, with extended dance-style sampled bits added to the mix. The lead singer eventually appeared, pounding out lyrics sometimes in fast rap, sometimes in fast reggae, bounding across the stage as he sang, vanishing during the instrumental pieces. The fiddler bounding and twisting in some most astonishing ways, all the more unusual because usually her feet moved together, not in the usual counterpoint.

Once I got over the dreadful fashion-victim effect of the costumes, the music was hot, hot, hot. Horace X has to be experienced to be believed -- and experience them live if you can. I have been going to the festival since 1993, and while I have loved many groups more, I have never seen anyone who struck me so completely as so truly original. Nor so horrifyingly badly dressed."
-- Lenora Rose, Green Man Review (2002)

"Their music is the sound of a dream you can't wait to have. It is crazy-making, irresistible, impeccably played and huge fun. The kind of music that makes you smile even after you've listened to it, just remembering how much fun it sounded like they were having while they made it...Horace X is to the cool, distant pose what the Renaissance was to the Inquisition. Fast-moving, deeply grooving, sweat-inducing music, played, sung and brassed-right-off, dense in a way that is immediately familiar to those of us living the wired life. This is a 'dense' that makes sense. This is dense you can dance to."
-- Vancouver Folk Festival Website

"Horace X - Ok, these guys were just plain weird. Their music, as described on their website, is 'Irish/Indian violin, jazzy east European style saxophones, Ragga ranting, samples and drumming that propels the whole thing at breakneck speed.' Riiiight. But what truly made these performers seem as though they could get on the bus free of charge was their outrageous neon glow-in-the-dark outfits. Flashy Glowing green Zoot Suits, fluorescent orange spandex, and hair reminiscent of that worm-headed guy from Return of the Jedi all rounded out Horace X's spectacular onstage appearance. They were awesome to see live Friday night; it was dark out and they bounced around the stage like Muppets on meth, glowing with the help of black lights. I wasn't on any narcotics, but you can bet that the die-hard hippies in the crowd were "seriously tripped out, man." I would highly recommend that if anyone gets a chance to see Horace X's live act, do so."
-- Andrew Aikenhead, The Peak, Vancouver BC (2002)

UK roots/rave Horace X, explores the future... changing the way people think about folk music and where it's bounds lie. -- Broose Tulloch, Stylus Magazine

"...Damn fine..." -- John Peel, BBC Radio

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