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A Formal Horse biography
Founded in Southampton, UK in 2014 (?)

From Southampton, UK, the musicians are Francesca LEWIS (Vocals), Russell MANN (Bass), Benjamin SHORT (Guitar) and Mike (STRINGFELLOW)(Drums). They have recorded 2 EP, the first one released in 2014 with ROB AUBREY (IQ, BIG BIG TRAIN). They played live at London's Resonance weekend with ANGLAGARD and BIGELF.
The music is diverse with some Canterbury, avant-garde and British Progressive Rock influences. You can hear slight KING CRIMSON influences in some parts of the songs that show some heavy parts and numerous rhythm changes.

Bio by rdtprog

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A FORMAL HORSE discography

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A FORMAL HORSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 39 ratings
Here Comes A Man From The Council With A Flamethrower
0.00 | 0 ratings
Meat Mallett

A FORMAL HORSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

A FORMAL HORSE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

A FORMAL HORSE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

A FORMAL HORSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 9 ratings
A Formal Horse
3.33 | 11 ratings
Morning Jigsaw
3.71 | 7 ratings
Made in Chelsea
4.00 | 4 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Here Comes A Man From The Council With A Flamethrower by FORMAL HORSE, A album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.03 | 39 ratings

Here Comes A Man From The Council With A Flamethrower
A Formal Horse Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Interesting and mostly delightful indie prog punk from Angleterre. I am reminded of THE CARDIACS, FACTOR BURZACO, INNER EAR BRIGADE, HUMBLE GRUMBLE, PINGVINORKESTERN, BLONDIE, THE SMITHS, MARIANNE FAITHFULL, LENA LOVICH, TRACEY THORN, and a whole bunch of late 1970s and 1980s artists of a type of music that I was not into (short, guitar- and lyric-based witty nihilist songs).

1. "Magazine Zooey Deschanel" (2:08) Nice lyric. (8.5/10) 2. "Bird" (2:35) Nice lyric. (8.5/10) 3. "I Just Called to Say I Like You" (3:49) Awesome vocalise. A top three song for me. (9.5/10) 4. "Petroleum" (2:55) (8.75/10) 5. "Boarded Doors in Bedford Place" (1:19) sounds like Tracey Thorn! (4.5/5) 6. "Bee" (3:40) like a PINGVINORKESTERN or INNER EAR BRIGADE song. (8.5/10) 7. "Last Track on Side Fun" (3:40) (8.25/10) 8. "Coda" (1:46) (4/5) 9. "Lonely Doe Young Doe" (3:47) a more sensitive, almost operatic side of Hayley. (a song about "roadkill"?!) Gets quite heavy in the instrumental mid-section. Another top three. (9/10) 10. "Here Comes a Man from the Council with a Flamethrower" (2:05) (8.25/10) 11. "Unison One" (1:56) an instrumental exercise in staying together in odd and syncopated time signatures. (4.5/5) 12. "Commons" (3:22) sounds like a previous song. Great vocal with nice vocal harmonies from the background vocalists. My third top three song. (9.25/10) 13. "Cherub" (2:07) an old-style, full-length 1960s pop song. Could be a BEATLES song. (9/10) 14. "Unison 3" (3:58) more odd tempoed, syncopated rhythm play in a complex, high-powered instrumental. Nice team work! (8.75/10) 15. "Boarded Doors Reprise" (0:48) not very similar to the first. (4.25/5) 16. "Anyway" (3:25) children's playground voices open this one before guitar and metallic guitar riffs establish the song structure and pace. Hayley singing in her lower registers. What a remarkable voice. Not unlike k.d. lang. Love the "scor-PIon" shift of voice into operatic soprano. (9/10)

Total Time: 43:34

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music of a kind of Indie Prog Punk variation.

This is an album that really grows on you as you listen to it--especially with repeated listens. Hayley McDonnell is an extremely talented singer, storyteller, and lyricist (unless someone else is writing the lyrics that she's singing.)

P.S. If you like this you will probably LOVE Inner Ear Brigade, Pingvinorkestern, and Ut Gret.

 Here Comes A Man From The Council With A Flamethrower by FORMAL HORSE, A album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.03 | 39 ratings

Here Comes A Man From The Council With A Flamethrower
A Formal Horse Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars The band "A Formal Horse" from the United Kingdom has been dilly-dallying around since 2014, and in that time has released 4 EPs. Finally, after 5 years at this, they released their first full-length in November of 2019, the intriguingly titled album "Here Comes a Man from the Council with a Flamethrower". Over the time they have been together, only the lead singer has changed. The band currently consists of Hayley McDonnell (vocals), Benjamin Short (guitars and vocals), Russell Mann (bass), and Mike Stringfellow (drums).

The album has an interesting track listing with 16 tracks in all. The overall run-time is around 45 minutes. None of the tracks quite reach the 4 minute mark. Sound intriguing? It should, especially with tracks that are named "Magazine Zooey Deschanel", "I Just Called to Say I Like You", "Last Track on Side Fun" and, of course, the title track. The band calls itself an "avant-rock quartet", but the music tends to be a blend of Belew-era King Crimson with the thoughtful, yet heavy attitude of Black Mountain. You will see what I mean as the music shifts around as it moves from one track to another, connecting the tracks together, but making it very obvious when one song changes to another. There are often some excellent complexities in the rhythm and heavy guitar exchanges that makes it obviously progressive. The songs, even though they are short, are well developed and each one has a lot going on in it, but each single track is focused on its own purpose, not a miasma or confusing mish mash of style so much in each individual track, yet there are still changing moods and meters within most of them.

Haley's vocals are quite good and fit the musical style perfectly. She is able to adjust her style and sound to match the ever changing musical style of each track. Just listen to "Bee", the 6th track, and you'll also hear her amazing phrasing and range as she jumps smoothly around octaves and interesting intervals with the grace of Joni Mitchell. Sometimes, its hard to believe that the instrumentation is as basic as it is; guitar, bass, drums. Regardless of that, the organic, dynamic sound is quite impressive, spot on, and often can fool you into thinking the band is much larger than what it is.

The melodies for the tracks are not made out of the typical "verse-chors" structure, but are more complex than that, yet they remain fairly accessible, kind of. The angular guitar work can explode at a second's notice into a complex KC-like pattern with the impossible meter shifts, only to soon pull back to a more melodious style, but the overall feel is a little on the dark side, yet that often shifts also. A great example of this is on the dynamic track "Lonely Doe Young Doe" that manages to touch on all of their styles while staying cohesive in a track that still manages to stay under 4 minutes. If you like what you hear there, then you will love the rest of the album. It is probably one of the most amazing individual songs of the year.

Ok, so we have established that the guitarist and the vocalist are amazing, what about the rest of the band? Take a listen to the title track and the following instrumental "Unison One" and even it's sister instrumental track "Unison 3", and you will get an idea with the complex bass and drum lines that support the crazy guitar, and you'll be convinced that this is a band that knows who it is and what they are doing. It's quite a display of dynamic mastery and technical prowess. And, what a way to end the album with the explosive "Anyway". Just perfect!

So, you can chalk up another one for the best albums of 2019, at least for my list. It is definitely one of the best that I've heard, and I've heard a lot of them this year. Those that loved the sound of "Bent Knee" on their recent release "You Know What They Mean" should also be impressed with this release. Think of that album with even more dynamic and mood shifts with many leanings toward KC's later sounds, then you'll know what you will be getting into with this amazing album. This is definitely another band to watch out for. Don't miss this one and make sure to leave room for it on your best of 2019 lists, because I think a lot of people would be impressed with it. As much as I try to not get emotional over an album while writing a review, it's hard not to get excited about this one. 5 enthusiastic stars!

 Morning Jigsaw by FORMAL HORSE, A album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.33 | 11 ratings

Morning Jigsaw
A Formal Horse Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars So nice!

This is one of the things I love from internet. Last week A Formal Horse followed me on Twiter, I didn't know who they were but of course entered to their profile and read some of them, then I knew they were a band whose music might interest me so, what do you think I immediately did? I opened Spotify, searched them and found this wonderful 2015 EP entitled Morning Jigsaw which has left me happy and satisfied the three times I've listened to it so far.

This is a short EP that offers high quality music that has some elements of heavy prog with lighter passages in the vein of Bent Knee that might appeal to any fan of prog rock easy to dig. It opens with "Morning Jigsaw" which happens to be the longest song. It has some nice changes but overall shares a heavy spirit in the instrumental moments, with a cool bass sound by the way; but a heavy sound that contrasts when female vocals appear, producing tender textures and a beautiful range, her voice might remind you of Kate Bush, Paatos or Magenta in some ways. The sound is clearly modern progressive rock, hope you get me.

The combo "To The Beach" and "(And Not Back)" give us 5-6 nice minutes of cool catchy prog that anyone could enjoy no matter the mood. I like the power of guitars and drums contrasted with the voice of the singer. The second part is instrumental, bringing cool bass lines and a nice structure. All of a sudden these two tracks have finished, meaning I've enjoyed them. "The King" is my favorite track. I like its gentle sound, the guitars and how beautiful sound with the vocals. The first two minutes are calmer but then the guitars become more aggressive, adding that inherent heavy prog sound to the music of A Formal Horse. Its five minutes are incredible, beautiful. My favorite track, I repeat.

The album finishes with "Dim" which has a calm start but then all of a sudden becomes explosive, heavy and powerful so you might want to do the headbanging haha, this track wonderfully represents what the term "heavy prog" is, despite its soft and catchier moments, overall is a solid and powerful song that nicely finish this cool EP.

This is by no means the best thing I've ever heard, no, but I am really happy to have discovered their music thanks to a simple follow on social networks, so thank you guys for incidentally introducing me to your music.

Enjoy it!

Thanks to rdtprog for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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