09 October 2010

Goodbye Horses

You told me, I see you rise...
But it always falls.
I see you come, I see you go.
You say "All things pass into the night"
And I say, "Oh no, Sir - I must say you're wrong."

Q Lazzarus, like Gina X Performance and so many other minimalist electronic artists, has all but vanished without a trace. Any hint of a popular revival comes from external forces - the electroclash synth revival, the odd left field cover version or perhaps an unexpected soundtrack appearance.

In Q Lazzarus' case, 1991's brief revival was due to the latter. Goodbye Horses, their one hit wonder is remembered most fondly for its use in The Silence Of The Lambs. Buffalo Bill dances before his mirror, his penistucked demurely between his thighs, gently mouthing the words to this minimalist, electro gem. It wasn't Goodbye Horses first appearance on a soundtrack, though - the songs first official appearance was on the soundtrack of Jonathan Demme's Married To The Mob. That was 1998, about three years before Silence Of The Lambs. Riding on the back of Hannibal Lecter, a single release took the opportunity to pair up the song with b-side White Lines.

The song itself, written for Q by William Garvey, exists in two versions - the original 4:20 version, and an extended 6:27, apparently produced specially to capitalise on the success of the Lambs. The lady herself, Q Lazzarus, can be seen briefly in another Jonathan Demme film, singing Heaven in the movie Philadelphia. The music is electronic, melancholy and minimalist. While the word simple is unfair, the song is in no way complex - a simple note fades into a drumbeat, and a single, sparse melody picks out the same note, an octave or two higher. The bassline joins in, repetitive and insistent, and finally the melody gains an extra note before Q Lazzarus begins to sing. The effect is aural perfection to rival Gina X's No GDM.

And the meaning - this flying over horses? A link to Eastern philosophy, we're told, rather vaguely. The horses represent the five traditional senses, keeping one tied to the physical plane of existence. The song concerns the struggle to rise above these earthly boundaries, to transcend and rise. And there - knowing that, how perfect is the song for Jame Gumb, as he struggles to rise above the boundaries of his physical sex?
Psyche, a Canadian electronic outfit, reasonably faithfully cover Goodbye Horses on their 1996 release, only getting a little carried away later on with an amateur-sounding synth solo. More industrial than pop, Carrier Flux offer their version freely on the internet. Sadly, tracking down the original is a little more complex. It's not on the Silence Of The Lambs soundtrack; divert your attention instead to finding a copy of the Married To The Mob CD. Finally, the compilation Retro-Active Volume 2 features the extended version, even going so far as to acknowledge the song's status as 'super rare'.

"I must disagree, oh no, Sir...
I must say you're wrong."
Won't you listen to me?
Goodbye horses... I'm flying over you.
Goodbye horses... I'm flying, flying, flying over you."