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The Arborists - A Place for you to Run Away CD (album) cover


The Arborists


Prog Folk

3.33 | 2 ratings

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4 stars The Arborists found their way to the Archives when I was about to suggest them, so, yes, I am thrilled about it-and I believe they will be pleased too. I am happy to write a few words about the wonderful band The Arborists truly is.

I like folk music but I usually do not get overexcited about it. Still, this Montreal based group, is a different case. "A place for you to run away" is their debut ep and it was released in the summer of 2014, making it one of the year's very pleasant surprises. The band's heart and core in this release is Alex Bedard (cello, vocals), Alex Cherney (multi instrumentalist, vocals) and Antoine Martel (guitar, vocals) but several good musicians are gathered around them, making the whole project feel like an artistic collective - or, I'd rather say, like a bunch of highly talented, good friends. Now, what makes The Arborists stand out from the rest folk bands? First of all, excellent songwriting, which at the end of the day is the only thing that really matters. Their songs are composed and performed like folk veterans would do, not like some guys debuting. Furthermore, all band members are singers and their voices are truly amazing. Lastly, the use of instrumentation is challenging and a bit experimental, widening their music's horizons and making them sound quite different and fresher than most bands of their genre. Are they prog? Actually no, there is a strong sense of intellectuality in their music though, a subconscious, discrete flirt with other styles (classical, jazz, rock and cinematic elements are well put here and there) and their playing skills reveal well educated musicians that intend to perform far more things than the basics. It seems that The Arborists achieve a great artistic balance, musically and spiritually.

This ep consists of 6 tracks and it has a running time of 27 minutes - enough time for the band to unravel some of its virtues. The 2 minutes long intro is a slow, dramatic and, somehow, epic tune that can instantly catch your imagination. I would certainly put that in a movie, with shots of a colourful spring's dawn. ''The grove of the patriarch'' then steps in, setting the pace with a traditional folk beat. You will immediately feel seduced by the warm, organic sound and the richness of the arrangement but it's the singers who steal the show, with the deep, beautiful tones and colors of their voices. Next is '' The miller and the painted lady '', holding the first real surprises and I have to admit that this is my favorite track. The song is structured around a Radiohead-like guitar melody and it features a grieving vocal performance (with incredible harmonies), while the upright bass is stunningly adding color. Then, at the middle of the song, time signature changes, rhythm section becomes technical and jazzy and the clarinet appears with a fantastic jazz noir style solo. Now, you don't listen to solos with chromatic scales in ordinary folk bands, do you? Absolutely a gem of a song and I have to be honest: this is the musical direction I dream about the future of The Arborists. A jazz folk hybrid delivered in such sensitivity. ''Change'' is next, it begins with an atmospheric intro with harmonics and goes on in a powerful groove but before the song ends, there's a part with a (bit operatic) vocal line, an intense narration and a simple piano, as if it is straightly taken out of a soundtrack. Brilliant. ''Afterglow'' that follows is another bittersweet tune, led by female vocals (and a great choir bridge, unfortunately shortly lasting) but strongly supported by every percussion and string instrument involved. Final track is the 6 minutes long ''Front porch''. The tempo is very slow, almost hypnotizing but tension is progressively built until the final bursting, sounding energetic almost in a rock manner. For some unexplained reason, in the beginning it kind of reminded me of the acoustic side of Devin Townsend's ''Terria''. No sound relation, probably the same Americana influences - or perhaps the same Canadian air?

The artwork is beautiful and quite romantic - wonderful hand paintings that perfectly suit the colorful nature of the music. The band obviously pays a lot of attention to the lyrics too (hats off for that) and every song has a poetic character of its own. Music, words and art combined, deliver the musical and spiritual balance I mentioned before. And it's great to see young people solidly tracing on their traditional roots, while maintaining a modern, innovative view on things.

Conclusion: The Arborists debut ep is good beyond expectation. While it will be enjoyable for the Fleet Foxes fan, it can also offer delight to the progsters, especially those who search for trippy but down to earth music that is natural and poetic. For me, The Arborists have many things in common with artists like Eddie Vedder or Simon & Garfunkel - in a more artistic way of course. They awake feelings of intimacy, of friendship, of sadness and sweetness, all delivered through crystal music and angelic voices. I am now extremely curious whether a full length would carry the same success. I believe that there is space for even more style enrichment and I beg them to walk further into that path. They are talented, they are true and devoted, so I guess they will succeed in whatever they choose.

''A place for you to run away'' is free to download on Bandcamp so, you really should give it a try. You have nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. Personally, listening to it makes me feel like I' m meeting a good, old friend, drinking a glass of good wine, laughing and reminiscing.

82/100 4 pagan stars!

Aldebaran_Well | 4/5 |


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