Jenks Miller lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He leads the mercurial art-metal/noise project Horseback (Relapse Records, Hydra Head, Three Lobed, etc.), and is a founding member, songwriter and guitar player in the band Mount Moriah (Merge Records, Holidays for Quince). Miller’s solo records tend toward improvised, textural abstraction, with just enough of a songwriting sensibility to situate them in the atmosphere between his two other musical outlets. His solo ventures have included the spare electric guitar improvisations of 2008’s Approaching the Invisible Mountain(Holidays for Quince), 2009’s concrète recording Zen Automata (Small Doses), and a 2011 collaboration with Nicholas Szczepanik titled American Gothic (Small Doses).
Though the surface characteristics of Miller’s various projects vary tremendously, they all share a carefully-crafted internal logic and an arresting attention to detail. The sonic pallette on Spirit Signal is at times airy and lyrical, at others claustrophobic and raw. Fractured, hypnotic melodies circle each other ominously, organic drones wilt beneath layers of fuzz, and minimal percussion disappears in an avalanche of sky-scraping texture. Spirit Signal is an album of contrast and synthesis, the stuff of internal landscapes. The playing here may recall folk guitar titans Neil Young and Richard Thompson and mind-benders like Keiji Haino, Loren Connors and Michael Morely.
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With Horseback, Miller has shared stages with Swans, Sir Richard Bishop, Locrian, James Plotkin and Jon Mueller. With Mount Moriah, he’s played with The Indigo Girls, Craig Finn, and Telekinesis, among others.