Arborea are a duo who create spectral haunting psych folk from their Lewiston base, deep in the Western Maine woodlands. Since forming in 2005 they have released two full length albums and have forged a growing reputation within the 'freaky folk' genre.
Arborea is also a mystical plane in the fantasy role playing game Dungeons & Dragons, described as a peaceful environment of natural beauty dominated by vast tall forests. This could be applied to their music as well, though I suspect they were inspired by their local surroundings rather than the adventure game. Arborea have encapsulated that pastoral setting with a sprinkling of bittersweet atmosphere, hanging over the songs like a mist of melancholy.
Their latest album, House Of Sticks, snuck out of the undergrowth on February 23rd 2009. It’s a mixture of old and new, with five tracks reworked from their 2006 debut album Wayfaring Summer (released on Summer Street Records) along with three more songs. These were originally recorded in the parlour of a 160-year-old family cabin that Shanti’s great grandfather built during the Great Depression, that lies amongst the Western Mountains of Maine.A quick run down of the instruments used on this album gives a fair indication of the field of music we are batting in here. Shanti Curran, she of the hair stand on end vocals plays banjo, percussion, guitar, bowed strings and the ukulele. Her husband Buck Curran is on acoustic guitar, steel/slide guitar, electric guitar, flutes, vocals, bowed strings and the inevitable banjo.
House Of Sticks
Rivers and Rapids
A gentle shimmering river’s edge of a tune with a menacing rip current for those unwary bathers dipping their toes into it's icy waters.
This is a straight forward lovely mournful track exemplifying Shanti's pure vocals.
A change of mood with Shanti's delivering a smokey vocal performance to accompany the tumbleweed slide guitar, think of Mazzy Star setting up camp in a glade on humid summer evening with crickets chirping away in the distance.
Dance Sing Fight
This is the stand out track of the collection, it starts off as a spare delicate whisper of a song which then blooms into a chorus lifted and tweaked from Aussie agit eco-rocker’s Midnight Oil biggest hit Beds are Burning with a potent reworking of the call for reparations for the Aboriginal community and a call to look after the planet (note: this was back in the Eighties before it was fashionable for every floppy haired rocker to jump on the green bandwagon)
How can we dance when our earth is burning, how can we sleep when our minds are turning,
The time has come, to say fair’s fair, to pay the rent, to pay our share...
Look Down Fair Moon
This is a simple instrumental song stripped down to the bare bones.
House Of Sticks
The nursery rhyme simplicity of the introductory segment, opens up into a vista of epic big sky sound territory, occupied so successfully by Ry Cooder on his celebrated film soundtrack Paris Texas.
On to the Shore
The calming mantra like vocals gently laps on to the shore of the tune that has a psychedelic/ eastern influence.
In The Tall Grass
Your ears will tingle when that wheeze of a harmonium kicks in on the final new track.
You can buy House Of Sticks here It's distributed by Darla Records in the U.S.A .You can get it from Spanish Label Borne Recordings and Acuarela Records, and via Amazon in the U.K . A record that follows in the footsteps of the likes of Vashti Bunyan, John Fahey and Sandy Denny and a contemporary of Alela Diane and Devendra Banhart.
There is also an Arborea inspired compilation record project called Leaves of Life which aims to help with important relief efforts in Africa. All the proceeds will go to the World Food Program and Not On Our Watch agencies. It includes artists such as the aforementioned Alela Diane and Devendra Banhart as well as Marissa Nadler It's due for release in the summer of 2009 through Borne! Records. More information on this project can be found at wearsthetrousers.com
Arborea - Black Mountain Road - taken from Arborea (2008) released by Fire Museum Records Official Video (directed by Francesco Paolo Paladino)
It’s ghostly vocal whispers ease us through the song which features Espers’ Helena Espvall chipping in on the cello.
17 Apr 09 Guthrie’s as part of the ’Neighbor by Neighbor’ Film Showing Lewiston, Maine U.S.A
18 Apr 09 Montague Bookmill w/Nuda Veritas Montague, Massachusetts U.S.A
07 Jun 09 Unity Centre with Eric Carbonara and Paper Hats Unity, Maine U.S.A
27 Jun 09 Space Gallery with Alec K. Redfearn TBA