Most people probably do not know the musician Nerissa Schwarz. She is from Bayreuth in Germany and is the harpist and Mellotron player in the German act Frequency Drift. In this band most of the songs are written by her husband Andreas Hack. Occasionally Nerissa brings some compositions to the table. But I guess a lot must have been left in her personal vaults because for the first time she comes up with an album of her own for which she wrote everything. Moreover she even produced, arranged, recorded and performed everything by herself. So-a true solo effort! She named her first musical baby Playgrounds Lost.
For those who know the albums made by Frequency Drift and the music on it, I have to tell them that what Schwarz does on her own has hardly anything to do with this band at all music wise. The musical genre which you can hear on Playgrounds Lost moves more towards minimal music, ambient and new age than progressive rock which the band she plays with has more references with. However, the soundscapes and ambient musical passages, which FD also has in their music, you can hear on this solo album as well. But, this time around everything sounds much more darker and less melodic. This has of course everything to do with the concept this album deals with. It should be mentioned that the conceptual orientation of this album has to deal with the beauty, fragility and traumas of childhood.
While listening to the songs on this album you sometimes get the impression you are listening to a movie score. Many times you see the images of children in your mind playing with their dolls or dealing with the horrors the adults cause them. An album such as Full Circle made by Colin Towns came to mind several times. Towns wrote the music for this album in 1977 for the horror film Full Circle (aka The Haunting of Julia). Many times you can hear on this soundtrack the drama of the film as well which is all about a woman fleeing an unhappy marriage and the death of her daughter who is haunted by the ghost of a vengeful little girl. However, the songs that Colin wrote for this soundtrack were more interesting for the lovers of progressive rock. The use of the Mini Moog frequently was the main reason for it. This instrument is unfortunately not used on Playgrounds Lost. The important piano parts on Full Circle are on Playgrounds Lost replaced by the parts performed on the harp which occasionally do sound like an electric piano. The Mellotron parts give the music written by Schwarz the occasionally warmth it needs. Otherwise the album would have sounded very gloomy.
Nerissa Schwarz's debut album Playgrounds Lost should probably appeal to those who enjoy more mellow and laidback music. Lovers of prog who are into happy tunes can avoid this release. Those who like everything sounding more darker should have a try. All in all a very nice debut album!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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