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Coming Out of the Fog
CD on Thrill Jockey
Cat No: THRILL314 , Stk Ref 79760

Released on: 02 February 2013

Magazine Review
After last year’s well-received hook-up with fellow Americana troopers Hush Arbors, Arbouretum make a switch from sprawling XL-sized jams to focus on their songwriting for their sixth LP.

On the receiving end of abundant critical acclaim, the Baltimore quartet’s slowly burgeoning profile should justifiably increase in the wake of ‘Coming Out of the Fog’.

Released through Thrill Jockey, home to avant-proggists Wooden Shjips and White Hills, the band share some of their label mates’ utilisation of hypnotic grooves, supplementing this with excursions into lilting country and folk.

While band linchpin Dave Heumann’s vocals owe a debt to English folk guitarist Richard Thompson, musically the band are dead ringers for peak period Neil Young.

‘The Long Night’ sets the scene for a blazing opening stretch, the tick-tocking guitar arpeggios and slowly rolling tempos leading into ‘Renouncer’, a distant cousin of ‘Cinnamon Girl’.

The five-minute firestorm of ‘The Promise’ meanwhile boasts raggedly improvised guitar lines that stagger fitfully across the fretboard, which are then firmly underpinned by sticksman Brian Carey’s hissing and spitting drums.

After the stormy opening trio, the clouds part for ‘Oceans Sing’, a beautifully played, lap-steel embellished meditation on time passing by that sees Heumann’s voice on the best form of the album.

‘All at Once, the Turning Weather’ provides the clearest link to the band’s past, a near seven minute epic that fades out in mantra like feedback, while one of the album’s strongest cuts ‘World Split Open’ bolts a vocal melody, which is weirdly reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane’s psych nugget ‘White Rabbit’. onto fizzing guitar riffs and motorik beats.

Bringing the curtain down on proceedings, the delicate piano touches and steady acoustic strum of the title track provide the backdrop for the tale of a late night drive across country - "I pulled off to the side/Under a September ceiling of stars."

By reigning in their lengthier material, the band hit upon a rich seam of song-led material, creating a slow-burning gem of an LP, one which grows in stature with each encounter.

Richard Lewis


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