[26 May 2009]
Anyone concerned with the perceived indulgence of the contemporary exploratory folk community should find comfort and relief with the music of Arborea. On House of Sticks, the Maine husband/wife duo of Buck and Shanti Curran create elemental soundscapes that ignore fashion and strive for natural beauty. The arrangements generally focus on a handful of acoustic textures that weave and interlock beneath Shanti’s amber vocals. The opener “River and Rapids” builds from an odd-metered banjo figure to include hand-claps and buzzing strings. “Beirut”, inspired in part by the film “Paradise Now”, culminates in a layering of guitar parts that feels considered and purposeful rather than superfluous. The effect of listening to House of Sticks is that of time slowing down, the distractions of everyday life melting away, where each sound feels important in the mix. Of particular note are the atypically structured “Look Down Fair Moon”, the slinky Eastern-jazz of “Alligator”, and the ethereal vocals and cicada-like drones of “In the Tall Grass”, which closes the album as gently and mysteriously as twilight.