Imagine if ...Baby One More Time-era Britney Spears and Bill Callahan holed away to make a record. That’s the fantasy Lily Konigsberg and Matt Norman bring to life as Lily and Horn Horse. Though the two barely crossed paths during their overlapping time at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley, a seemingly predestined encounter brought Lily and Matt together. While on a quest for a lost blanket, Matt ended up at his old house, in which Lily was now residing. The pair eventually began working on recordings together, with Matt adding baritone horn to Lily’s songs, and Lily then adding vocals to Many of those tracks, which composed Matt’s Horn Horse record and Lily’s karaoke experiments, found their way onto March 2017’s Lily on Horn Horse. The 28 track tape flits from drum-machine dances to abstract frenzies but sounds remarkably cohesive all things considered.
The 19 tracks that fill their debut LP, Next to Me, paint a picture of pessimism, love, despair, and perseverance. “Our working relationship is sustained by criticism and love. While performing we usually don’t directly interact, but when we have to share a microphone we accidentally perform intimacy,” the two musicians explain. “Also, we have learned dance techniques from each other and sometimes synchronize them in performances.” Unlike her frenzied work in the experimental punk trio Palberta, here Lily luxuriates in softness. Her voice ishelium-spiked cotton candy while Matt’s baritone provides robotic sharpness. Lily finds inspiration in the works of Arthur Russell and Guided by Voices while Matt cites “young Ry Cooder, old George Jones, and 4th dimensional Donald Fagen.”
While they may pull influence from these sources, Lily and Horn Horse sound wholly unique. The pair typically begin building songs individually and then collaborate in later stages of production. As such, the tracklist alternates between each performer and is filled with brief instrumental interludes. “Do you see what I see/Listen to me beforehand baby/If you want to get next to me,” Lily chirps over careening blips on the opener “Next to Me 1.” On “Scumbag’s Apprentice,” squawking samples give way to Matt experiencing a crisis of character that could soundtrack an 8-bit video game. When Lily and Matt appear together later on “I’m 25,” their voices meld together so hypnotically that their crooning sounds like a message from another planet. “Staring at Plants” transforms a sample of Lily and Matt playing a casio keyboard together into a whirling, sensuous dreamscape. To say the least, Next to Me is a reverie of ideas and melodies that sweep the listener away into the world of Lily and Horn Horse.
Lily and Horn Horse is:
Lily Konigsberg and Matt Norman