Cherub

Eric Lesher

Independent release, 2006

http://www.ericlesher.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/26/2007

What if Christopher O’ Riley played Radiohead like Radiohead did? Eric Lesher does just that on his debut release Cherub, except that the songs he plays are his own.

As a classically trained pianist, Lesher’s songs are piano compositions but are flavored with gothic sound textures. Most of the times these are very electronic but surreal and feature mumbles of ghostlike speeches. This record is as Kid A as a classical record can get.

Lesher’s songs often start with a simple piano hook, which unfurls as the tune develops more complexities, with layers of futuristic sound effects building up over it. On the title track -- a brilliant album standout -- the spoken words sound like the diary of a very depressed individual, but the song picks up pace during the "chorus," with Lesher’s piano jumping from one note to another like he would juggle a hot potato between his hands. The speaking voice turns thin, frail and alien-like during this point; altogether, it's a creepy but intriguing tune.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The voice on  “Holiday” -- another standout -- speaks in echoes and is completely out of sync with the gorgeous tune, but this adds a little chaos and an interesting twist to the song. However, on “Garden,” the vocals seem completely out of place and unnecessary. On this one, they lash out like a fiery spoken word poem, and somehow seem way too over-emotional for the song.

The electronics used on Cherub are mostly ambient additions and do little to nothing as far as providing a beat goes; except for the piano the album is devoid of all other instruments. However, Lesher’s piano quivers rhythmically, making the absence of any kind of beat absolutely unnoticeable. On the album’s most accessible and danceable cut, “Locket,” the starting catchy hook upon which the whole song is built is almost like a foot-tapping beat. “Square” begins with a pulsating electronic rhythm, which fades out as the piano kicks in with its own beat. 

The gloomy effects and the cheerless music on Cherub is not what one would expect in a typical gothic record. This is no doubt a dark album, but its sound is more psychedelic and avant-garde than actually depressing. Nevertheless, it is not your run-of-the-mill piano pop record.

Lesher’s deftness with the piano is unmistakable. However, he is equally clever with the various sound-effects he plays with -- some using the synthesizers -- on the album. He has a very classical approach to the piano but the resulting tunes sound like Tori Amos playing on a high. Cherub is a must-have for anyone who loves the sound of the piano with a little edge.

Rating: B+

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