It seems this new Herrek are interested in setting up their tracks as morose mixes of downbeat soliloquy and tough social commentary.
Goodness this is something else. Herrek once released a tough sounding record on Rotterdam’s Samling Records – a label renowned for their uncompromising approach to the weird and overlooked electronica, (for want of a better word). Now on another Dutch label, Snowstar, they seem to have changed tack entirely, swapping their old white noise (a strong echo of singer Gerrit van der Scheer’s previous bands, Adept and Bonne Apart) for a brooding, sensual sound.
So, things are low in key and seemingly less abrasive: though you do detect a fair old chunk of menace lurking around, especially in some passages on White, Drown, or Tiger Eyes. It seems this new Herrek are interested in setting up their tracks (like The Dark and White) as morose mixes of downbeat soliloquy and tough social commentary. But with just enough hooks and texture to get you involved: despite the descriptive, emotive lyrics the music is sketched in in a broadly brushed deliberate manner. Anyway I get the hunch they realised that making everything too miniaturist, too neat, would have meant losing the listener’s attention… There are some grand gestures being given a run out here, ones that bring a fair amount of tension into the mix.
So it’s a record of contrasts despite its apparently undemanding nature. And they have their own formidable brand of “pop” too, given the evidence of three tracks on this short LP; maybe we should deal with them in a bit of detail too. Rain is a brilliant opener, a gentle foray downstream in a punt, staring at the dapples in the water: it’s also something of a misleading track, things don’t get this siren-like, or pleasing, till Team starts up four tracks later. Van der Scheer sounds uncannily like Roland S Howard at times in Rain too: it’s freaky. Maybe this is why I can’t stop thinking of things like Pink Elephants or The Boatman’s Call here. Maybe that’s the main connection, rather than the brooding, almost lupine atmosphere. My People is an extraordinary lament as well; set up by a fragile chorus, and with some simple percussion and an unobtrusive guitar line, the track broadens out into some sort of morose chant which may sound unappealing but is incredibly effective. Just as you think it starts to kick on, it just fizzles away. Immediately. And almost immediately, the following track Team picks up the vibe: another cut set up by a fragile chant, it’s like a long, soothing coda to bring a sort of soulful balm after the brittle otherworldliness of My People. Once the drums come in the whole track lifts off in a very gratifying manner indeed. It’s great, powerful stuff.
Damned fine listen all round and a record that will grow on you for sure.