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16 Horsepower - 16HP

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 19 / 6 / 2005

16 Horsepower - 16HP


Sixteen Horsepower recently announced that they were breaking up after 13 years together. Shortly before disbanding, they released '16HP', a double DVD. Malcolm Carter writes about what has sadly become their obituary

One of the more interesting releases of last year was the Lilium (16 Horsepower band members Pascal Humbert and Jean Yves Tola) CD ‘Short Stories’ in a 5.1 surround sound mix. Those fans wishing 16 Horsepower would follow suit and release some of their work in surround sound have their prayers answered with the release of this double DVD. To start with the only quibble with the package is that contents on the discs are printed wrongly on the DVD sleeve. If like me you wanted to watch the videos first (and the 5 videos are a major part of this collection; how many times have we seen them before? None of the so called music channels round these parts have ever shown them to my knowledge) then on inserting disc two into the player, which contains the videos according to the sleeve, we are presented with an interview with the band. So take a tip and make disc one the first disc to watch and loose yourself in the imagery of these predominantly grainy black and white promos. It’s an easy way out to state that these videos are just like we imagined any 16 Horsepower videos should be, but they are; the first (and last) image we see from the first video, ‘Haw’ is a shot from the ground looking upwards past the soles of a hanged man’s shoes as he sways in a noose. Not your usual MTV fare. With the recent news that 16 Horsepower, after 13 years together, have decided to disband and that Edwards is now devoting his time to his Woven Hand project this DVD takes on more significance. It’s now their obituary. It’s those five videos which are going to be the main attraction here; ‘Haw’, ‘Black Soul Choir’, ‘Clogger’, ‘Splinters’ and ‘Hutterite Mile’ are all featured and are all compelling viewing, the intensity of the bands live performance is not lost in these videos. Three of these videos also feature in the surround portion of the disc. ‘Clogger’, ‘Splinters’ and ‘Hutterite Mile’ all benefit from the full surround sound treatment. The only complaint is that only a total of seven surround sound mixes are on the DVD. C’mon Glitterhouse, if a band ever deserved their back catalogue re-issued in surround sound it’s 16 Horsepower. Put my name on the list if it ever happens! The other four surround mixes consist of ‘Poor Mouth’, ‘Silver Saddle’, ‘Blessed Persistence’ and a live segment titled ’24 Hours’. These latter titles have no videos to accompany them but the excellent sound quality more than makes up for the lack of visuals. The first disc also contains three powerful performances of ‘Horsehead Fiddle’, ‘Flutter’ and Joy Division’s ‘Heart and Soul’ which the band make their own. The live section is completed by a film / documentary from March 2001 made at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels. It follows the band from sound check through to after the show and is a fascinating insight of a day in the life of the band on tour. The second disc is a collection of interviews and documentaries. The first segment, an interview with David Eugene Edwards and drummer Jean Yves Tola, is again shot in grainy black and white and for those who are only familiar with the band through their albums or intense live shows it comes as a surprise to hear Edwards is almost quietly spoken. The interview is interspersed with live snippets. Paul Epstein interviews Edwards in his hometown of Denver, Colorado and this is the most revealing of the interviews with Edwards explaining more about his musical roots, influences and upbringing. This section also contains live songs. Edwards picks up his banjo and treats us to versions of the traditional folk song ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and a cover of Dylan’s ‘(Nobody) ‘Cept You’. This interview is worth the price of the DVD alone for anybody who is interested in 16 Horsepower and Edwards in particular. There then follows a documentary ‘1993-2003’ with interviews and live footage of the band but this is overshadowed by the following short film ‘Coulisses’. This short follows the band during one of their European tours and is again a fascinating insight into the life of a band on tour. This DVD is unlikely to win the band any new fans but will be more than welcomed by those already won over by Edwards and co. It’s debateable how many times the box will be opened to view those interview segments, good as they are, but for those videos and the snapshot of the band playing live this package can’t be beaten.

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Interview (2008)
16 Horsepower - Interview
David Eugene Edwards is the former lead singer with the much acclaimed 16 Horsepower, and currently the front man with Woven Hand. John Clarkson talks to him about Woven Hand's just released fifth album ,his musical career and the srongh biblical influences on it

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Olden (2003)
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