Nerissa Schwarz: Playgrounds Lost (2016)

Written by: Kev Rowland

I first came across this album when it was suggested to the Crossover team on ProgArchives that Nerissa would be a worthy inclusion. It didn’t take long for us to agree, and she was duly accepted, and I discovered that this was an album that stayed with me, one that had so many hidden layers and depths that it required repeated plays to try and understand the music that was contained within. Nerissa first came to attention to many as harpist with the progressive band Frequency Drift, and although she has also worked elsewhere this is her first truly solo album where she provides electric harp and Mellotron in what is a truly atmospheric and reflective melancholic album. There are times when the music is really very dark indeed, and I wouldn’t recommend playing this late at night after too many gins, as it might not put you in a mood you would relish. But, playing it late at night with a glass of Man O’ War Exiled Pinot Gris is a different matter altogether, and I would recommend that as an interesting exercise.

I also found that this really is an album that benefits from being played on headphones, as the listener mustn’t be distracted by any other sounds, but instead needs to be taken deep into her world. That the cover is a photo of a person in woods is not an accident I’m sure, as for me this album evokes feelings of walking deep in forests allowing my mind to wander (and not too sure if it will ever really come back). Sometimes the dappled light comes though the leaves, providing some relief, while at others it is deep and the canopy is a ceiling that cuts out the birdsong and contains just that hint of threat. If ever an album repays being paid close attention to, then this is it.

Rating: 8/10

Track list:
Play // Dance Around Black Hole // Running Out // Fireflying // Last Spring // Yellow Skies // Something Behind Trees // No More Games // Playground Lost


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