Personnel: Meg Baird (vocals, drums); Charlie Saufley, Noel von Harmonson (guitar).
Audio Mixers: Eric Bauer; Bob Marshall; Heron Oblivion.
Recording information: Bauer Mansion, San Francisco.
The four members of Heron Oblivion are no strangers to the psychedelic folk-rock underground, having spent time in bands such as Espers, Comets on Fire, Six Organs of Admittance, and Howlin Rain. On their debut album, they strike a balance between delicate, pastoral folk and heavy, loud space rock, with Meg Baird's fragile, wispy vocals sharing the stage with Noel von Harmonson and Charlie Saufley's crushing guitar solos. Baird also doubles as the group's drummer, pounding steady rhythms locked into the groove with Evan Miller's fluid yet powerful bass playing. On many of the album's songs, such as the ten-minute mystical expedition "Rama," the group sprawls out and explores the landscape, building a backdrop for Baird's cooing Sandy Denny-like singing before climaxing in ferocious guitar battles that sound like a duel between Neil Young and Japanese axe-shredder Keiji Haino. On the album's best and most immediate songs, however, they compact all of the elements of their sound into tighter frames without sacrificing any of the dreaminess. "Oriar" is four minutes consisting almost entirely of ripping yet tuneful soloing, and "Sudden Lament" is a sweet yet sorrowful heavy psych-pop gem. Best of all is the magnificent "Faro," which begins with a jagged, wiry guitar riff before launching into a propulsive, slightly nervous dream pop scorcher, with Baird's sighing spoken thoughts accompanying her gorgeous singing, and harsh guitars crashing like an electrical storm. The album ends with the sorrowful slow burner "Your Hollows," in which Baird's distraught vocals soar off into the stratosphere before the guitars smash everything to bits. ~ Paul Simpson