With an electronic swoop, UK pop composer, singer, instrumentalist and producer Hydra Lerna presages her new single with words that get straight to the point ‘…you can’t say that I’m not damaged, the scars are on my back….you know that I come with baggage, we have to face the fact….’
As the percussion threads through the stark but lush synth notes we soon get to the uplift of the chorus ‘…I’m ready to be OK again…’. Hydra has a track record of dynamic, soul-searching singles where the often dark tone of the lyrics ( ‘…touch me like a razor, hold me like a bed of nails…’ from last release ‘Camera’) is always tempered by a gift for melody carried by her rich soaring voice which adds a balance of optimism to the whole.
This release is the last one before a creative break to realign her musical career and it is a fitting temporary finale; memorably the music rolls, pushes and pulls like gathering storm clouds before the sun breaks through. In the eye of the hurricane of swirling keyboard layers and textures the multi-tracked voices add a lushness and grandeur to the resolution of the title line.
The last acapella lines float away into the ether and her single unadorned voice is the final sound we hear for the present from this talented and enigmatic performer.
‘Camera’ is the stunning new single from singer/composer/musician Hydra Lerna, self-produced as always and this time moving into a lighter pop groove. Despite the summery flavours of the music, there is a darker side in the lyrical conflicts of the narrator being in a difficult relationship, not quite sure of the conclusion but aware of the positives (‘….It’s a hundred degrees outside…but in here it’s intensified….’).
Many of her songs show that Hydra Lerna has always been able to turn a lyrical phrase inside-out and use some evocative imagery ‘…hold me like a bed of nails… I think I found my holy grail…’ and explanation ‘….it is all in our flawed design…puzzle pieces with jagged lines…’. But the situation described here is sort of equal, with the slightly sinister pay-off ‘…when we’re hanging in the balance….I’ll have the photographs of you…’
It is a lyrically dense and thought-provoking song and the music reflects the ebb and flow of the words; based around two six note keyboard figures there is a deep bass counterpoint and subtle percussion.
Hydra Lerna is a talented harp player and has featured this on some of her previous tracks but this time the unique instrument has been left to gather dust in the studio cupboard; as she explains “There is no harp in Camera at all sadly, just synths! I moved away from it for this track because I wanted to be free to create something upbeat and dancey, without feeling like I needed to sit and write with the harp”
The innovative video features lots of secret filming in Norwich city centre shops, as Hydra links together the photography of the video-watcher, herself and the surroundings and looks like she is having great fun in the process!
‘Honey Bees’ is the new single from indie-experimenters Diving Station and is the latest in a string of high-quality releases.
Earlier this year ‘Film’ was a soundscape of scenes and movements; drawn together by a repeating descending vocal figure underscored by a shifting texture of instrumentations, from loud fuzzy guitar to semi-classical acoustic and of course the signature sound of the Celtic harp (or ‘clarsach’).
Starting with a pulsing bass riff, ‘Honey Bees’ takes the sound of the Manchester four-piece in a different direction. On this excellent new track the percussion of electronic sounding handclaps sounds tense and trying to speed up, but the pace is reigned in by the interweaving bass.
The overall dissonant but dreamlike emotion of the song is mainly caused by the imagery of the lyrics, with the literal or metaphorical appearance of the ‘honey bees’ ‘… my grandma used to put them in a jar, those honey bees……they can smell your fear, those honey bees….’ Even the innocuous ‘…the sweetness at the bottom of the cup….’ sounds sinister in the context of these words.
The cryptic ‘….she was a rose, handled by those….’ is a recurring chorus interlude accompanied by harp mini-waves played by singer Anna McLuckie. Guitar effects float in and out and a synthetic(?) string section drifts on the air in this immaculately crafted single, every element contributing to the whole.
Remember, ‘…..you should warn your friends….about honey bees….’
After the critical acclaim for her debut EP last year, singer/songwriter and electropop performer Hydra Lerna releases a new self-produced single.
The resonant words paint pictures of love and loss, with some acute phrases ‘…our skeletons are kindred…’, ‘…the silence never rang so loud….’ The lyrics thoughtfully reflect the mood, beautifully framed by the sheer power of the music. Here the layers of synthesisers sound like they were recorded in a cathedral, filling the vast space above as a deep and organic bass pedal strides underneath.
The title evokes ambiguous sentiments; it could be applied to being lost in an oppressive relationship or the negative feelings created. But ultimately this is a song of optimism and moving forward – identifying the problem as a first move towards empowerment and importantly the realisation of not being alone in the situation.
Hydra Lerna is a talented harp player; on this track it is sampled and contorted as part of the sonic palette, but it is the overall effect of massed keyboards, subtle percussion and her pure, emotive singing voice that is mesmerising.
The narrator finishes on an upbeat but slightly sinister note ‘…he won’t get away…we’ll get justice…’ which fades away on the track but stays and lingers with the listener….
(Hydra Lerna plays at The Blue Moon, Cambridge on Friday 27th September 2019)
A new self-produced EP from Norwich based singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Hydra Lerna, building musical textures around her harp-playing and electronic treatments.
1. Reckless A distant tone introduces a recurring loop figure on the harp, other sounds drift in and out but the gorgeous vocal really lifts the song; understated but intense ‘…it’s clear that I know what I want and it’s becoming an addiction, you’re becoming my addiction….‘ The soaring chorus melody carries all before it and electronic percussion patterns and bass pedals help to build up the drama. This a stunning start to the EP.
2. Angel v. Psycho This is a bit more sparse and spiky with a processed voice, creating a darker atmosphere and never quite revealing where it is going.
3. Distraction This short analogue-toned electronic interlude floats dreamily in some alternative space, gradually adding the layers and the repeated title to enhance the mystery.
4. Hydra – Remix Back to a more conventional song structure here for this description of a relationship intertwined with a lyrical identification with the ‘Hydra of Lerna’ of Greek and Roman mythology. The staccato musical core of the track flows into a busy percussive chorus ‘…you’ve got power but I’ve got poison, I can take you down…’.
5. Birdcage – Remastered A waterfall of lovely harp triplets roll through the start and are never far away in this anthemic piece. A lyric of escape gives way to an instrumental coda; this is another track that shows the creativity, imagination and potential of this talented performer.
A new EP from Manchester four-piece Diving Station, an engrossing collection of acoustic and electric soundscapes.
1. You’re Not Listening As a guitar sound arrives from a distance singer Anna McLuckie immediately pins down the sense of the track with her jazzy vocal stylings. The distinctive harp appears after a minute or so, adding an unearthly texture to the constantly changing instrumentation. The other band members drift in and out with vocal and musical contributions to a song that never follows a predictable path.
2. Taking Tongues A beautiful combination of harp and acoustic guitar sets this gorgeous track on its way. Deceptively sailing along on a smooth tide of restrained acoustic folk the rest of the band suddenly crash in with an electric guitar and percussion outburst; even the harp gets aggressive. The calm after the storm is a glorious vocal coda.
3. When I Arrived It Was Raining With a title like the opening line of an inviting novel, this is another track to lose yourself in its many sections and moods. A lyrical evocation of homecoming and longing is at times accompanied by a sparse but always carefully judged instrumentation; impressively towards the end the harp and guitar harmonics create the sound of raindrops…
4. Tour Guide A dream-like and anthemic end to the EP, driven by a sustained and emotional vocal as the band create layers of sound patterns underneath, gradually leading to a gentle play-out as the finale to this fine collection of songs.
This EP from Diving Station has been out a while, but it is still a discovery well worth making. The four-piece from Manchester describe their sound as indie-folk and harp-driven rock with other genres blending in too. The harp features strongly on short instrumental opener ‘Alice I’ with a bold chord entering over the sound of raindrops.
‘Plastic People’ has an alienating lyric over a roving bass and drums with sparkling harp glissandos. A middle section gives way to a repeated chorus line then an enormous electric guitar crashes in and drives the song into a big finish with a gradual drift away. It is full of surprises, as is much of this EP.
‘Turn Off’ is a more conventional rock song, with an irresistible hookline, sung with emotion by main vocalist Anna McLuckie. Another short instrumental, then pivotal song ‘Origami Warfare’ broods and builds over five and a half minutes, drawing the listener into the offbeat lyrical ideas; some fine free-form drumming on this track and that big guitar crashes in again.
‘Drown’ is probably my favourite track, an acoustic and atmospheric duet showing the folk/dream-pop side of this talented band. As the music fades away over the horizon it certainly leaves a lasting impression…