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(37:39, Nerissa Schwarz)
TRACK LIST: 1. Play 2:53 2. Dance Around Black Hole 5:07 3. Running Out 1:44 4. Fireflying 3:29 5. Last Spring 4:23 6. Yellow Skies 3:10 7. Something Behind Trees 5:55 8. No More Games 4:27 9. Playgrounds Lost 6:31 LINEUP: Nerissa Schwarz - harp, Mellotron
Prolusion. German composer and musician Nerissa SCHWARZ is probably best known as a member of German progressive rock band Frequency Drift, a band she joined in 2011. She has also released music of her own previously, then using the moniker Coronal Rain. "Playgrounds Lost" is her first proper solo album, and was self released in 2016.
Analysis. The kind of music Schwarz explores on this album will, by and large, be best described as ambient music. The compositions are fairly calm and dream-laden, the arrangements tends to be sparse and dominated by floating textures and wandering, plucked harp notes. That being said, this isn't at all like a new age album, nor is it a jubilant or spirit calming production. As far as dreams go, these are ones from which nightmares may well spawn. I do not know the full scope of this album, but it comes across as a rather personal one. If it is lamenting the joys of childhood and reliving the excitement of playing as a child, when the shadows behind the tress were imagined to be dangers and the holes in the ground to conceal threats, or if this is a rather more dark and disturbing tale told by way of music...or something else entirely...I don't know. But this is music about loss and losses, about darkness and danger, on some level or another. Throughout the album melancholy, sadness, being forlorn and the stuff of nightmares all make musical appearances. Rarely if ever in a dramatic manner, but calm and careful, Like seen through a veil, or through being psychologically distanced to whatever memories have inspired the composition in question.. Everything isn't pitch dark, far from it, but some cuts have a dark and menacing flair to them while others have subtle undercurrents of the haunting and menacing. Some glide by on a more careful air of melancholy, other start out that way and transform along the way, like a dream of childhood suddenly twisting into a psychedelic nightmare where order fades out and chaos glides in. All of this conjured by way of an electric harp and a Mellotron. When listening through this album I'd be willing to swear that at least a piano and a xylophone were in use too, and possibly a bass and a guitar as well. Which, I guess, speaks volumes about Schwarz abilities to use her two chosen instruments extremely well, and cleverly at that. While none of the songs fails to touch upon some associations or emotions of some kind or other, not all of them are as interesting as the others when listened to on the basis of the music itself. But I rather guess that is the point here too, that this is music you should immerse yourself in and listen to with your heart rather than your brain. That being said, also those who primarily are in the latter category of listeners should find plenty to enjoy here, as long as they have a general tendency to like this specific kind of music.
Conclusion. Nerissa Schwarz debut solo album isn't one that most would describe as progressive rock as such, especially as the rock aspect is rather far removed from the premises. Those who just can't get enough of the Mellotron should take note of this album however, as that instrument is rather central on all songs. Other than that, those fond of ambient music honing in on melancholy and dark, haunting and mystical moods should most likely find this album to be of interest.
Progmessor: December 27th, 2017
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