A few weeks ago I wrote about the new album by Her Name Is Calla, a post-rock act whose bleak world-view made for an uncomfortable yet compelling listen. Glissando – signed to the same Gizeh Records label – offer a slightly more approachable form of music, with the emphasis on quieter but no less powerful sounds. Based around the duo of Elly May Irving and Richard Knox, ‘With Our Arms Wide Open…’ is a record which demands attention.
‘With A Kiss And A Tear’ introduces the listener to the fragile beauty of the Glissando sound where Elly May Irving’s folky vocals are balanced against the steady raindrops of piano keys. ‘Floods’ is the most poignant of all the songs; it’s a relatively relaxed track full of swelling strings, Irving at her most emotive and the piano at its most melodic. For the first half of its fourteen minutes, ’Floods’ also reminded me of the early-80s (and recently revived) Factory act The French Impressionists but then it flows into experimental, ambient territory. Later on, these ambient moments lose focus from what is an otherwise flab-free record, with the meanderings redeemed by stunning moments like the passionate, foreboding ‘Grekken’ where Irving claims “You made me kill myself”.
Certainly the album could have been cut down from its seventy-minute length (the drone-fest of ‘Like Everything You See’ lasts for quarter of an hour, for example). Nevertheless, ‘With Our Arms Wide Open…’ is a very moving record, made all the more convincing by the knowledge that Irving and Knox ended their long term relationship before the songs were recorded.
The French Impressionists, Her Name Is Calla, This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance