What we have in Herion’s Out and About is a work that is ambient chamber music in every sense of the term: spatial, intimate, classically based. Strip away the subtle wash of electronics that Emanuele Errante and Enrico Coniglio whisper beneath piano from Elisa Marzorati and viola by Piergabriela Mancuso, and what’s left is a rich bed of beautiful compositions for traditional acoustic instruments. (Besides their laptop work, Errante and Coniglio also add strings, guitars and more.) One of the best compliments I can pay Herion is to say that I’d listen just to those elements, sans electronics, and still firmly enjoy the disc. With the opening track, “Oxg,” Herion establish their acoustic-drone base, the metallic rasp of the strings adding not just a texture to the sound, but an equal sense of emotional warmth and humanity. It’s part of the real beauty of Out and About–the way in which we’re intermittently reminded, as the disc goes along, that the sounds aren’t all circuit-born. It’s a good reminder, since it’s easy to lose sight of that as Herion quietly wrap you in smooth sound-ribbons. There’s a lot to like here, and much of begins with Marzaorati’s piano work. Her playing is sweet, graceful and impeccable, whether it’s thoughtfully wandering through Errante and Coniglio’s misty landscapes (“One Minute Before the Sunrise”), holding a polite dialogue with a sighing harmonica (“Cab”), dropping like forgotten tears (“Lindos”), or giving itself over to electronic treatment to capture a sound-image (“The Hanging Glacier”). The disc closes with her playing alone on the appropriately titled “Solo,” and it’s a standout moment on an excellent disc. And while her playing is central to Out and About, it’s the atmospheres that Errante and Coniglio craft around her and Mancuso that give the whole thing an amazing depth and a touch of the ethereal. The worlds are perfectly blended on the dramatic “Moske Orgulje,” with all elements adding their voices in balance. From start to finish, Out and About moves from moments of soulful serenity to breathtaking beauty. Its organic roots run deep to ground the listener in the moment and the experience. Out and About is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
Available from Hypnos.