16 Horsepower


Monday, December 01, 2014
16 Horsepower – “Hutterite Mile” from Folklore (2002 Jetset)


I remember being fairly taken in by 16 Horsepower in their heyday. They were doing something unique, a sort of Appalachian death blues or something, by way of Denver by way of Los Angeles. There were rumors that they were Christians, and at the time I was a Christian, though their spirituality seemed far more Old Testamenty and murdery than mine ever was. A friend saw them perform at Cedarfest in Minneapolis and remarked that the band stared intensely into the crowd during the entire set, with a kind of wild-eyed fervor.

Their Wikipedia entry is fascinating and entirely recommended reading. I’ll cover the highlights below:

  • The band met building sets for legendary B-movie superstar Roger Corman.
  • A bass player of theirs later played in Candlebox. 
  • The band’s break-up was attributed to “political and spiritual differences.”
  • There is a strong influence and connection to Nick Cave.

This last point works as a segue to the song “Hutterite Mile,” one of four originals on Folklore. The lyrics are a bit murky, but generally in the “wayfaring stranger” vein. The music, however, could sit next to Nick Cave’s “Mercy Seat” on a mix tape, maybe one entitled “Songs to Listen to While Contemplating Suicide.” It’s a dark amble through a cold life, and it’s hard to listen without wondering what the band has done and seen.

Maybe it’s all a gimmick — if you’re building sets for Roger Corman, maybe artifice comes easily — but if so, it’s a well-done one. It’s the Fall of the House of Usher without jet planes flying past in the foreground, and set to guitars.