Heritage is birth right. It is the ripple of the universe, that uneven land, that we owned with all its mysterious contents in the uncounted moments before we could remember or know the sinful truth of how we came to be.
HER NAME IS CALLA's THE HERITAGE is a thrilling evocation of those flickering memories from life a little later than birth. It expresses, with care and dignity, the rage and desolate grief of the adult's blind longing to return to those consummate moments. It achieves these things by allusion, by suggestion and through the nerve to rip music from any source that still has heart, soul or muscle. This isn't anyone's post-rock. This is a strong flow from the main spring, connected, involved and drawing from all the best of contemporary intelligent music.
Brief, cryptic lyrics are cycled and shared through the six main songs, recurring or developing as the music turns between hush, urgency and violent storm. "I searched for years", "This cannot be the way I remembered" "I came to find the boy I had lost". "but no one had seen you in years"
"Which boy?" we might whisper back. No answer. Song five is called "Motherfucker! It's Alive and It's Bleeding", evoking placenta, Oedipal guilt, the fantasy of self generation and the rage against the disordered and cruel world of men. "This is punishment! This is anger!" The shock of these lines is real, the voice and the words have the power of truth. The unsung title, for a heart stopping flash of directness, means exactly what it says. So rare, so powerful.
The sixth song "Rebirth:" yearns for life and kowledge of the primitive. It's five words "I'm in rebirth. I remember" yield to optimism and possibilities, cowled like monks, resigned to return in the patch of land from which they rose. It's the end of a requiem mass with no God, beyond the earth or the body. It is followed by an older song called "The Long Distance Runner", with that extended silence between them. I would strongly recommend that the measured silence is fully used. Listen and contemplate all that has come before while the silence unwinds, and be brought back to your place in the real world with a fine tune, strongly sung and beautifully accompanied with guitars, brass and voices. It's a rich experience. Treat yourself.
As a production the whole work carries off at least one very big risk. The first murmurs of opening track "Nylon" are an ambient recording (it seems to me) of some kind of pumping equipment, turning at a deep level and inaudible if the volume is set low. A switch seems to click and a high spinning whine rises to the edge of hearing and stays there in the mix (with a deep vibration beneath the pulsing of that pump and a light rhythmic dripping sound) until it clicks off and goes silent, marking the end of the main unified sequence after the sixth song. Once the ears have picked up this ambient thread it's hard to let it go. It continues in the gaps between the separate songs, and then, in that mysterious silence, after an echo of the opening click shuts down the whine you might find that every other sound in your room comes to life, playing a mysterious music to fill the void wth never-ending echoes of your own heritage.
In order, the songs are listed as "Nylon", "New England", "Paying For Your Funeral", "Wren", "Motherfucker! It's Alive and It's Bleeding" and "Rebirth:". Within them there are huge, raging crescendos, beautiful guitar passages, engineering whirs and clicks, cavernous echoes, strong soaring voices, touches of piano sound and surges of processed samples. The pulses of sorrow, bereavement, rage and redemption (in that final beautiful song - the one that escapes the obsessive pump of the mechanical heart) give the whole thing an unbroken narrative whose specific tale will vary with every hearing.
In physical terms it's a CD/download collection of songs (with a running time of 51 minutes 20 seconds that includes the five minutes 15 seconds of silence). Calling itself a "mini-album" it 's a big step on the way between a well-received début single in 2007 and a full album early next year.
The vocals range from gentle to possessed. Opening song "Nylon" has a lot of LOW'S "In The Drugs" about it. "Wren" provides the most lyrical sad beauty with woven vocal/cello lines. "Motherfucker!" has the rage and anger.
Thom Corah, Michael Lowe, Tom Morris and Adam Weikert are the principles. String players from vintage UK post rock group THE MONROE TRANSFER are co-opted for this recording and live dates to support it are featuring trumpet from Sophie Barnes and cello from David Dhonan. The intricate, widely ranging production of THE HERITAGE has been done by the band themselves.
Without labels like Gizeh Records putting out music like this, whenever it's ready, simply because they love it, the national musical landscape would be a very poor place. To give this album 10 stars would be a denial of the tentative, exploratory imagination at work within it. It would put a hex on that full album promised for later.
So let's fill in eight of the damn stars and declare that this is the most agitated and obsessive I've been about an album all year. It has ruined my work-habits and destroyed my deadlines. And that, I think, is exactly what art should do.