It’s been a while since we last heard from Her Name is Calla, the first band I reviewed on here a full decade ago now.
The first things that’s striking about lead track ‘The Dead Rift’ is that it’s a lot more rock-orientated than the bulk of their recent material with the exception, perhaps, of ‘Meridian Arc’ from 2014’s ‘The Navigator’ album. It also marks something of a shift for Her Name is Calla, with their now-standard instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums augmented with strings, being used to create a more overtly folk-rock sounds. Adam Weikert’s drums are to the fore and there’s a real urgency which seeps from every note here. And, when it reaches its stride toward its finale, it sees the band come on like Fleetwood Mac on steroids.
The remaining three songs return to quieter, sparser and more reflective territories. The soft acoustic guitar and understated violin work providing a delicate accompaniment to Tom’s soulful vocal delivery. Lyrically, as is so often the case with Her Name is Calla’s songs, it’s not so much about unravelling every line, but the way the delivery conveys the sentiment.
The instrumental ‘Phosphenes’ casts an arc back toward their early material, with echoes of the introduction to ‘New England’ in the hypnotic throb that holds it together, while the dissonant piano call(a)s to mind ‘Condor and River’. It ends quite unexpectedly, paving the way for the lugubrious semi-ambient organ drone of ‘Church’. Also instrumental, fairly atypical of their work – but it’s darkly atmospheric and is indicative of the band’s gradual, but continual, evolution.
The vinyl edition also includes a remix of ‘The Dead Rift’, which is pretty radical. And – wait for it – it works well, even with the pan pipes. Electronic without being overtly dancey, it accentuates the song’s expansive, epic qualities while recontentualising them in instrumental terms.
It may be a fairly stock summary to say that a release is a welcome and interesting addition to a band’s catalogue, and that it marks a progression, but where ‘The Dead Rift EP’ is concerned, it’s true. It sounds like the work of a band in transition, and very much in a good way.