Herion: Out and About

Though the Italian trio Herion boasts Emanuele Errante, Enrico Coniglio, and Elisa Marzorati as its members, the outfit is clearly more than the mere sum of its parts, especially when their multi-instrumental contributions to Out and About are complemented by the luscious viola playing of Piergabriele Mancuso. The trio members themselves function as a veritable mini-orchestra, with Marzorati's piano playing augmented by the guitars, strings, harmonica, synthesizers, melodica, field recordings, and laptop processing of her colleagues. What results is a richly detailed and rewarding collection that's often affectingly plangent in tone, not to mention stirring. Herion's electronically enhanced chamber music is artful without being precious and soulful to boot, and a quiet emotional sensitivity colours the album's forty-six minutes in a way that helps distinguish the recording from the competition.

Marzorati plays in an impressionistic and restrained manner that's in keeping with the meditative character of the album's ten pieces, while the wistful quality of the melodica often creates a mood of longing. Errante and Coniglio typically fashion silken webs of multi-faceted design against which the contrasting voices of Marzorati and Mancuso resound. That's never more apparent than during “Two Minutes To Sunrise” when the piano flickers and viola shudders amidst a gleaming backdrop of fluttering detail. Elsewhere, an ambient setting, “Oxg,” inaugurates the album splendidly, with the serenading wheeze of the melodica and harmonica punctuated by piano chords, synthetics, and the drone of the viola. Pairing its melancholy cry with Marzorati's gentle sprinkle and a rich backdrop of textures imbues “Lindos” with a pastoral beauty that elevates the album. A slightly darker tone pervades “Moske Orgulje” when an underlying metronomic rhythm, punctuated by the viola's interjections, urgently nudges the material forward. One final contrast surfaces when Marzorati's given the spotlight during the peaceful, album-closing “Solo.”

While there is a subtle ambient dimension to Out and About that's in keeping with Hypnos releases in general, Herion's music aligns itself more closely to a style one might call 'chamber electronic-classical.' Regardless of labels, the album is a distinguished collection of enchanting mood settings that again speaks highly for the strong reputation Hypnos has acquired throughout its history.

January 2011