Jackson VanHorn, “Arcane”

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The start of a solo project often acts as an unveiling of a musician’s lifelong “other” influences, stepping away from past projects to come into their own and develop a sound that makes them tick. In Jackson VanHorn’s case, such a transition reveals an affinity for retrospective mood and instrumental emotionality. The former TV Ghost guitarist, who previously released music under the moniker Crossed Eyes, offers a glimpse into the music he’s writing, recording and playing under his own name, with “Arcane.”

Brooding bass and a hypnotic, unwavering drumbeat set a beautifully dark stage for the reverberated guitar picking and VanHorn’s cool, yet foreboding vocals. Everything is breathy, a sense of urgency in all sounds both human and machine. It’s like listening to a car headlight shine through the thick of a night fog. The song title itself evokes the tone for which the project as a whole is going, ominous and enigmatic. The chorus aches in a sort of elongated reprieve, the absence of the arpeggiating six-string creating a luring suspense, like the curious danger at the end of an unlit tunnel. Key sounds are introduced in the latter half of the track and add a new layer of dramatic effect, which is already otherworldly, and all fades to the sound of the guitar’s liquid ethereality.

Jackson VanHorn plans for an EP release in the near future.