hERON’s self-titled album is a total joy to listen to. Not because the music is overly joyful, though it does indeed start off that way – Chillmode sets the perfect kind of aura to relax within and enjoy the concept implied by the title. The reason the project brings joy on the whole though, is this creative fusion of somewhat retro or vintage sounds and effects, with a notably uplifting string of melodies and creatively free energy. At the same time as appearing unusual, quirky even, there’s a definite touch of professionalism and well-crafted musicality, which makes it a dream to escape to.
Flipout introduces more of the melodic, riff-led energy to the colleciton, keeping the mood fairly high – upbeat, hopeful, happy. Holding On follows and adds a hypnotic touch of melancholy to the mix. The sound by now, despite the differences between tracks, has set itself in stone as the creative approach of hERON. You recognise the development, the freedom, the emotion, the balance between intensity and lightness, grit and delicacy. This track feels like a fly-on-the-wall vision of something unsettling taking place, in some dark corner of a distant land.
EvilFortress introduces a slightly more organic presentation of musicianship. The guitar riff feels like acoustic-rock, the beat undoubtedly floats somewhere between trip-hop and industrial electronica. The music has an entrancing quality here, which is calming, and again extremely easy to escape into. A personal highlight and a pleasure to re-visit again and again as you go about your day. The haunted meet with the hopeful and create something uniquely wonderful around you.
It’s Too Late brings back that element of the continental, another immediately enjoyable soundscape with a great sense of rhythm and a fair amount of detail – really giving it character and unexpected complexity. Kissed Dreams lightens the mood a little, takes you down to the beach, where the people are relaxing, dreaming, simply being. A dash of voices appear intermittently and really add to the already present jazz-cafe vibe that seems to reappear.
Eclecticism is a big part of this project, but not in the sense that the duo behind hERON seem unsure of where to go with it all. As stated, their signature is unquestionable, it appears in so many little ways. The eclectic edge simply makes this a playlist that easily maintains your attention at every step, and that toys with your emotions in a subtly provocative kind of way. One Day It All Ends is a strong example of this, the concept and the music work hand in hand to lead your mind and your feelings off down some thoughtful avenue. Quite often you get these down-tempo albums that are either purely dreamlike and unfocused, or overly personal and emotionally weighed down. I think in this case the balance is superb – there are good vibes, for sure, but there’s also a lot to remind you of the humanity behind it all.
Melt Away welcomes the back the guitar sound and some other distinctly organic accompaniments. The rhythm here is brilliant, as is the bass – this feels a little like the backdrop to a Tarantino scene. Oh adds a little more darkness, the industrial energy returns, the samples are toyed with in a creative and structurally fresh way. Vagabond follows and raises the energy high – the music feels multi-layered and quite epic, willingly lost somewhere between joy and sadness, evolving to become a stunning gathering of musicianship. Another personal highlight. The piano work is awesome, gritty and authentic yet also somewhat disjointed and surreal. The beat works perfectly alongside of it.
The project’s self-titled track marks the penultimate few minutes and brings about an intense fusion of haunting elements and those that are much lighter – as if the sun is trying hard to rise, but the darkness is fighting to keep it away. Things progress in a far more joyful manner, as stated earlier – the overwhelming energy you get from this is far from the sort to bring you down. On the contrary, I found the playlist uplifting, and fairly inspiring.
Holding Each Other marks the end of the collection. There’s a notable level of space here at first, particularly after what preceded it. The rhythm and the simple back and forth between chords reminds you of that thread that is the hERON way with creativity. A totally enjoyable album and a band worth exploring. Hopefully there’s more to come.