|Her Name Is Calla — Navigator |
Her Name Is Calla — Navigator
♣ “There’s an emotional maturity here... a mellifluous echo of a record that could take several listens to unfurl. Equal parts triumph and doubt, but in every breath nothing less than monumental.”
Location: Leicester, England, United Kingdom
Album release: May 5th, 2014
Record Label: Function Records
Formats: CD, Double LP, and by digital download
01. I Was On The Back Of A Nightingale 3:11
02. The Roots Run Deep 4:10
03. "It's Called, 'Daisy'" 1:52
04. Ragman Roll 5:02
05. Meridian Arc 4:50
06. Navigator 8:30
07. Burial 5:40
08. A Second Life 1:22
09. It Was Flood 7:08
10. Whale Fall: A Journal 2:47
11. Dreamlands 11:48
12. Perfect Prime 3:57
♠ Sophie Green: Violin, vocals, cool hair
♠ Tom Morris: Lead Vocals, piano, guitar, banjo, useless film and comic trivia
♠ Nicole Robson: Cello, vocals, talent, more cool hair
♠ Adam Weikert: Drums, organ, banjo, mandolin, piano, double bass, science
♣ Lead vocalist Tom Morris also tours and releases music as a solo artist under the name T E Morris, as does multi instrumentalist Adam Weikert as 'Weikie'.
Words // Wesley Freeman-Smith
♣ It’s been four long years since the last Her Name is Calla record proper. Four long years to linger in the shadow of that infamous NME quote from back when print media was a thing; four long years for the band to deal with life and all it’s vicissitudes; four years in which big names in music have come, gone, and the evolution of post-rock from Tortoise-like textural excursions to found-sound prog-rock has come full circle. It’s always been hard to tell exactly where to place Calla — and with their fate held somewhat in the balance of late, you’ll be forgiven for asking in all innocence, “whose name is Calla?” when told they’ll be touring soon.
♠ After losing some key members, and their remaining ones consumed by an array of solo projects to make Godspeed You! Black Emperor jealous, it’s something of a pleasant surprise to long-term fans and newcomers alike to find that ‘Navigator’, the group’s third release, is possibly one of the genre’s most accomplished records in recent years — if, indeed, post-rock is still the genre we’re in here.
♠ From minor-key opener ‘I Was on the Back of a Nightingale’, all mournful vocal lines and sun-dappled strings, to the epic wanderings of ‘Dreamland’, it’s the kind of record that could take several listens to truly unfold — a mellifluous echo of a record ringing through the halls of Plato’s cave, equal parts triumph and dismay, but in every breath nothing less than monumental. There’s an emotional maturity here, and little to suggest the group care any less about crafting a great song than they do about sweeping, grandiose musical narratives. Understated gems such as early revelation ‘Ragman Roll’ jostle shoulders with emotive tour de force such as ‘Meridian Arc’, with equal attention given to each. When the band soar, the rush is tremendous; when they settle, the results are no less captivating. One suspects there’s some genuine storytelling going on here — and at it’s most potent that story feels almost mythological in breadth. Equally, there is space for reflection — the musical equivalent of stopping at a peaceful town in an RPG, perhaps.
♠ The first many will have heard from the album seems to prefigure this ambiguity. ♠ ‘The Roots Run Deep’ lands somewhere between long-song and short-song format, and is fairly typical of the rest of the LP in that it gives away very little about the instrumentation and arrangement of subsequent tracks. For a band whose previous output has ranged violently between 19-minute song trilogies and balls-out rock beasts, little could be more appropriate than a downtempo synth ballad to reintroduce them. As Drowned in Sound were quick to point out, the song’s pixellated groove does little to dull the group’s potency — the metronomic crunch and chime only seeming to accentuate the crisis point at the song’s core.
♠ Heard in context, the song seems to act much like the preface of a book — setting a tone and suggesting a course, but revealing little of the forthcoming plot. You could probably break the album up into constituent parts and have enough instruments to write 4 different albums by 4 different bands — from violins, to mandolins, to more ambiguous passages such as the interlude “It’s Called ‘Daisy’”. Sonic diversity appears to be a permanent part of their M.O.
♠ Set squarely in the middle of the record, the title track presents as a slow-developing piece, and its pay-off is immense — reminding the listener of the pleasures of delayed gratification. Alongside a beautiful female voice, presumably either Sophie or Nicole, it’s also not the first time that lead vocalist Tom Morris evokes something of the late great Jason Molina, of Songs: Ohia fame — a heady compliment if ever there was one.
♠ Following this, the eclecticism only continues. ‘Burial’ leads the way for the rest of the record; a smatter of percussion, the funereal sound of an organ, and a banjo set firmly on better-than-Mumford-and-Sons. ‘Whale Fall’ takes a sudden detour into the electronic again, ambushing the listener with cut-up vocals, clicks which in all likelihood are samples of some deep sea mammal conversation, and a harmonium cribbed from Radiohead’s ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’. It’s palette-cleansing moments such as these that act as counterbalance to the more bombastic sections, showing an aptitude for the intimate as well as the epic.
♠ The aforementioned ‘Dreamlands’, itself a recurrence from previous EP ‘Maw’, all but finishes the record in an indefinable swoon of strings and shoegazing that Morpheus himself would be proud to lay claim to, and the final track rounds up by “swallowing the roots of the trees” — an appealing symmetry with the LP’s opening moments.
♠ In summary, good things come to those who wait: ‘Navigator’ may have taken some time to find it’s way, but the learning is in the journey. A worthy successor to its critically acclaimed predecessor ‘The Quiet Lamb’, and one that’s sure to see a resurgence of their cult popularity. A triumph of a record, and well worth your attention. (http://slatethedisco.com/)
Review by Pete Feenstra
♠ "Navigator is the third album by Her Name is Calla and their first through Function Records. It follows on from their critically acclaimed album The Quiet Lamb. Written over the course of the last three tumultuous years as life, death, distance, divorce and everything else in between tried its best to pull the band apart. It retains the bands own personal sound of soaring strings, and crescendos with footing equally in rock, electronica and folk. The album was written largely by Tom (Vocals/guitar) and Adam (Drums/keys) sending countless demo's to each other over several years. Navigator is a story of dreams that fail and do not materialise as youth slips away. It is the story of leaving one life behind and heading into the unknown of another. It is a story of losing love, life, faith and identity, and the great depression that brings."
♠ Pas toujours facile d'accès, cependant intéressant.
♣ Navigator (2014), Function Records ( CD, LP)
♣ The Quiet Lamb (2010), Denovali Records (CD, CD in wooden presentation box, 2x12" vinyl in a triple gatefold. Available as picture disk, ultraclear or black vinyl)
♣ The Heritage (2008)
•• CD album — limited to 500 copies, Gizeh Records (1/06/08)
•• Handpackaged cassette — limited to 20 copies. Personalized introduction and packaging with hand typed lyric booklets. Also included extra songs) (1/06/08)
•• Vinyl Pressing — Limited to 500 copies 100 copies clear w/ violet haze, 200 copies black and 200 copies clear w/ violet mix ) Denovali Records (17/09/09)
•• 2nd CD press, Gizeh Records / Denovali Records (17/09/09)
♣ Maw (300 10" vinyl with download) Denovali Records (April 2011)
♣ Live at Denovali Swingfest 2010 — Three track digital download (Given away as free Christmas download in 2010)
♣ "Long Grass" — limited edition — 10"+ CD (100 copies on clear vinyl and black haze, 200 copies on black); CD version (200 copies in wooden box) (early Feb 2010)
♣ "A Moment of Clarity" 7" (500 copies) Gizeh Records (10/9/07)
♣ "Condor and River" CDR (250 copies) Loom (26/3/07)
♣ "Hideous Box" CDR (500 copies) Self released (2006)
♣ "The White and the Skin" CDR (unknown amount) Self released (2005)
♣ Blueprints: Augustus, Will You Build Again? CDR Self released (2004)
♣ The Cracked Wooden Hands of the Master Craftsman CDR Self released (2004)
♣ Paraplegia CDR Self released (2004)
♣ Maybeshewill / Her Name is Calla Split 12" Field Records (500 copies) (03/11/08)
♣ A Blood Promise DVD/CD (300 copies) Gizeh Records (2/03/09)
|Her Name Is Calla — Navigator |