The Horse Flies

Where the Rivers Flow North

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AllMusic Review by

This is how the machine works. Author Howard Frank Mosher writes a book about a fictional region of Vermont called Kingdom County, Jay Craven pens the screenplay and directs the film, and the genre bending, prog-goth-bluegrass band The Horseflies compose the soundtrack. This peerless collective of art-house misfits have turned the northeast into a sepia-toned playground for One-eyed mountain men, failed boxers, and ex-army chaplains seeking redemption amidst the ebb and flow of small town ethics. The Horseflies' excellent score for Where The Rivers Flow North punctuates the plight of a stubborn ex-logger who refuses to be bought out by a hydroelectric company intent on flooding the valley in which he resides. Utilizing their enormous talent for atmosphere, and almost organic use of electronics, the band hones in on the films weary protagonist like a predatory bird, painting his every move with fingerpicked guitars, subtle percussion, and cricket and loon samples. Jeff Claus' clawhammer banjo conjures up images of snow-felled trees and dark autumn roads on the sparse "Charleston," and leads the group on the haunting "Warmth Of Your Love." The signature delay-heavy fiddling of violinist Judy Hymen is more subdued here than on previous outings, yet retains the same fluidity and impeccable intonation that has made her a much sought-after session musician. Her work on the brooding "Storm Trucks" and the lush "Woods," references the old-timey style of the bands' early days, as well as the manic manner of their more contemporary offerings, emphasizing the internal conflict that plagues the film's disheveled locals. The Horseflies don't just interpret these characters; they are these characters. After spending the majority of their lives in upstate New York, they have a better perspective on the somber autumns and dark winters that blanket the hills of Kingdom County than any hired gun, which makes their reverence for its fiction that much closer to fact.

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