Her Name Is Calla - The Heritage

Helen Newbery 31/05/2008

Rating: 4/5

After a couple of impressive singles, this is the first (albeit mini-) album from Her Name Is Calla, released on Leeds-based independent Gizeh Records. The album continues where those singles left off: 'Nylon' has a slow, almost eerie start which builds into a powerhouse of crashing guitars. The track has an other-worldliness about it, enhanced by singer Tom Morris shouting off-mic and into the ether. The second song, 'New England', also begins with an almost glacial slowness. Lyrically, it has a timeless quality: “I came to find the son I thought I'd lost”. And all the while, the guitar is strumming relentlessly, and the horn is circling, waiting to pounce. Then the bass and drums kick in, and the track builds and builds until it reaches the kind of all-out sonic assault that leaves the deafening silence ringing afterwards in your ears.

After 'New England', 'Paying for your Funeral' has a piano-led start, which leads you into a false sense of security, before gradually morphing into something much more ominous and somehow menacing. This feeling of unease is not entirely dispelled by the harmonies of 'Wren', with its lonely closing strings. A silence, broken only by clicks, follows, and runs into 'Motherfucker! It's Alive and It's Bleeding!'. Reprising the lyrics from New England, its low-key start belies its relentless build up. Eventually, Morris' cry of “this is punishment” is the howl from a tormented soul. And it finishes where it began, with those clicks again punctuating the almost-silence. The choir-like harmonies and discordant piano of 'Rebirth' follow, providing a disquieting end to an album which is at times disturbing, but rarely less than ambitious.

Her Name Is Calla are masters of the slow build, but their approach never seems formulaic as you are never quite sure exactly when the crash is going to come. Timeless and ageless, three of the tracks are over eight minutes long, but it doesn't seem like an indulgence; and not a note seems superfluous or out of place. They are also a band who know how to use silences to their best advantage.

Overall, this is a bold and assured debut from an innovative band.