Review: HERR - Fire and Glass - A Norwood Tragedy (2007)


artist: HERR
release: Fire and Glass - A Nor­wood Tragedy
format: CD
year of release: 2007
label: Cold Spring
dur­a­tion: 18:52

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

I hadn’t heard HERR before, except for a gig which didn’t impress me all that much. How­ever, there’s a first time for everything, and this new EP is actu­ally quite nice. It is a con­cept album, about the rise and fall of Crys­tal Palace, the fam­ous build­ing in Lon­don. Troy Southg­ate wrote the nar­rat­ive that accom­pan­ies this album, and it is read aloud by him over the course of these four tracks. It is a per­sonal ded­ic­a­tion to a sym­bol of beauty and cul­ture, that was how­ever cruelly des­troyed as the res­ult of two arsons.

Music­ally, this EP presents a smooth neo-classical soundtrack to Southgate’s storytelling. A prom­in­ent role is laid out for piano and synths, and with excel­lent cello play­ing by Oskar van Dijk also fea­tur­ing on three of the tracks. It all sounds quite stately and swirl­ing, cap­tur­ing the feel­ing that the build­ing must have inspired, in a mod­ern way. The melod­ies express the gen­eral mood of the tracks - won­der in the first, danger and loss in the second, etc. - in a subtle way, though also a bit too smoothly or eas­ily. I would have liked to sense a bit more fire­works in the present­a­tion and sound of the songs, where that would have matched the nar­rat­ive con­tent. As it is now, I often sense a bit of an emo­tional dis­tance between the two, and I would have pre­ferred a more intense link. This, then, is the main weak point of the EP: per­haps it could have achieved more emo­tional power.

Nev­er­the­less, this is a very pleas­ant EP to listen to, and I find it an hon­our­able trib­ute to Crys­tal Palace, now in ruins. I think fans of the band should not be dis­ap­poin­ted by this release, and I also recom­mend it to people gen­er­ally inter­ested in neo-classical music.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Sparks of the Ima­gin­at­ive Mind (4:31)
2. Drown­ing in Showers of Melt­ing Glass (5:49)
3. Mem­oirs of Light (3:08)
4. Embers (5:24)