[sic] Magazine

Her Name Is Calla – The Quiet Lamb

If you don’t yet know, Her Name Is Calla are a UK based post-rock collective, comprised of five core members ( Thom Corah , Sophie Green , Michael Love , Tom Morris and Adam Weikert ), each commanding a veritable band’s worth of instruments on their own, and further accompanied here by another four musicians ( Sophie Barnes , David Dhonau , Ola Szmidt and Gavin Miller ).

With a host of EPs, singles and demos preceding it, The Quiet Lamb is, by all technicalities, their first full-length album. That bright orange score up there is a fairly glaring indicator of my esteem, so I’ll attempt to get straight to it and give a few other reasons why this release is something of an event not to be missed.

Opener ‘Moss Giant’ could, in any other place, be deemed an interlude – a gently moving piano piece with quiet hints of something much larger behind it. As such, it’s more like an opening window to the world beyond, and whether you consciously choose to venture out once that window is open matters little, because this world is huge and it’s going to come in and surround you, anyway. There is no putting this album on and going about your business, it will grab your attention and resolutely keep it for pretty much the entire 75 minute running time.

‘A Blood Promise’ and ‘Pour More Oil’ follow, both of which appeared as demos last year and are now fully realised to effect some of the album’s most stunning moments. A brief interval then precedes those instantly recognisable opening notes from ‘Condor and River’, which has been given a touch of refinement. The raw, open emotion of the original is, perhaps at first, a little subdued in favour of more concise storytelling; but that driven, near-frenzied sense of primal urgency that builds throughout the first eight minutes is this time pronounced in absolute terms, making that stop to catch your breath even more necessary, and in turn what comes next has been made that much more compelling.

February‘s single, ‘Long Grass’, continues to unfold with subtly searing bliss, soon after which ‘Thief’ arrives to become one of those tracks that silences everything down to your last train of thought – the steady drumming resonating like a heartbeat that’s been waiting patiently in remission.

The album closes with ‘The Union’ – a trilogy of similar epic proportions to the cinematic counterpart. First is ‘I Worship A Golden Sun’, the rolling, grungy bass to which I‘m particularly attached. Next is ‘Recidivist’, an instrumental piece which starts lightly enough – albeit ominously – and quite effectively heralds the dramatic moments before the finale. It builds to an almost operatic climax before giving way to final track ‘Into The West’. If ever there was a high energy, galloping torch song that could inspire Franco Nero to reprise the character of Django just so he can claim it, this would be it.

Musically dense, lyrically succinct and incisive, The Quiet Lamb achieves a dynamic sound that consistently expands and contracts, from slow-burning restraint to heart-pounding excitement – you will probably find yourself doing something quite similar, that is, leaning into your speakers to listen more intently, then leaning back and just letting it swell. To this particular listener’s ears, there is a definitive, underlying sense of calm at the centre of HNIC’s music, even when at their most frenetic or devastating. What that seems to do is prevent the expansive, emotive and sometimes heady results from ever becoming overwhelming. If the album loses me anywhere, it’s only momentarily with the two intervals; which could well be the point, necessary respite for some, and not nearly enough to detract from its overall strength.

There’s a chance I’ve used more words than necessary. In truth, I had a whole bunch more. That could be both a testament to the scale of the work as well as an acknowledgement that there are some things that simply can’t be easily distilled into the rather small things words are. Then again, this album really only needs one: superb .

The Quiet Lamb is currently scheduled for an August 2010 release on Denovali Records .



A Blood Promise