Sunday, April 24, 2011

Heron: Lord and Master

Back to Rob Young's Electric Eden for another minor curiosity of British folk rock.

A few years after Traffic, and a few miles away from their cottage at Aston Tirrold, another band attempted to get it together in the country. That band, writes Young, was Heron - "a Berkshire semi-acoustic quartet whose two surviving albums from the dawn of the 1970s were both recorded by a mobile unit en plein air."

He goes on:
Frustrated with their experience of taping a single in Pye Studios in summer 1970, the group made their way to a farmhouse in Appleford, Berkshire ... and settled down in a circle of chairs in a meadow at the back of the house to play the thirteen songs of their first album, Heron (1970), as Pye engineers set up microphones booms around them.

A separate mic was positioned some distance way, specifically to capture the ambience of the great outdoors. As a result, twittering, trilling blackbirds and larks and swishing foliage fill the spaces between the tracks, and the gaps are longer than average, as if urging the listener to slow down and tune in with the spirit and rhythm of the place.
This song - a reverie by a nature god whose being is entwined with the cycle of the seasons - comes from that album, even if we can't hear any blackbirds. Young describes it as achieving "an exceptional harmony with the countryside", which is perhaps a little kind. The effect is certainly less striking than that achieved by Comus: Heron's England is far gentler place.

Heron are still with us. The story of the band's revival is told on the Relaxx site. Today you can lots of recent performances by them on Youtube, including one of Lord and Master recorded at Bridport in 2005.

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