The Monroe Transfer and Her Name is Calla – “An Enclave”
Review by John Deasey
It’s always interesting when you are asked to review music from a band you really don’t know much about. No preconceptions, no axe to grind – a blank sheet of paper and a clean mind. When Echoes and Dust (www.echoesanddust.com) sent this through for me to listen to, I was intrigued
The Monroe Transfer (from London) and Her Name is Calla ( spread between Leicester, Leeds and York) already work closely together and have toured with each other and contributed to each other’s music, but no official collaboration has ever been done until now.
A coming together of two ‘Post Rock’ outfits would generally suggest a huge, over the top, Mogwai-meets-GYBE-meets Explosions in the Sky down a dark pub and battle it out to see who can be the most post-rock !
Thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the case and this EP turns out to be a bit of a charmer.
A lot of this charm may stem from the way the EP was recorded over a four day spell which, by all accounts, includes camping out, roughing it and freezing their backsides off.
Sometime the words ‘home spun’ and ‘kitchen sink’ can be the kiss of death for music, when what was intended to be intimate and urgent can come across as annoying, irritating and up itself. Again, this isn’t the case here.
From the acapella opening of the first track (#5) to the closing ambient sounds of the last track (#7), we are treated to a lovely, mournful ocean of sonic tragedy.
There are five tracks, no titles, just numbers, and not even in sequence, but it doesn’t really matter as there is a flow to the whole thing which goes with the urgency of the recording I guess. No time for overdubs, re-recordings, second takes or any such luxury – often the first thing you hear is the best and they’ve done pretty well with this approach I’d say.
The album opener is a mournful sea-shanty with a background drone so typical of this style and it sets the tone with an air of sad misfortune. This morphs beautifully into the second track as the same refrain continues with a lone cello which gently builds up with violins, guitars and more vocals until we have a swelling tide of folk-tinged post-rock beauty.
There are echoes of GYBE here, a touch of Radiohead there, but this is just a hint of the overall sound and nowhere does anything feel contrived or borrowed. Indeed, the fourth track has a rawness and edge to it that jolts you out any reverie that might have been setting in. This is an angry, percussive led piece with group chanting and a lead vocal almost shouting :
“the path to righteousness is always out of reach….”
“I screamed and I shouted … I demanded to be heard”
Guitars start to scream in the background and we have a fantastic cacophony of demented anger, home-spun charm and a feeling that great fun must have been had recording this.
A gentle ambient closing track calms things down again and with a running time of 21 minutes, there is not a moment wasted.
A super little EP. A little different, a little rough round the edges but well worthy of your time.
For a pre-purchase listen try www.hernameiscalla.bandcamp.com