# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Arbouretum - Rites of Uncovering

  by Andrew Hare

published: 26 / 1 / 2007

Arbouretum - Rites of Uncovering
Label: Thrill Jockey
Format: CD


Haunting and exploratory acid rock from Arbouretum, the project of Baltimore based musician Dave Heumann

There’s no other way to start this review than with one brief caveat: I hate hippies. True I’ve been to Bonnaroo twice, I can appreciate the Bob in small doses, and I even occasionally will make trips to the co-op. But for all intensive purposes I really hate hippies. So when Arbouretum stated to launch into a meandering, acid-fried 6 minute long solo barely into ‘Sleep of Shiloam’ it would seem that their Thrill Jockey debut ‘Rites of Uncovering,’ would go the way of Jerry Garcia in my mind. Ahhh, but no my dear reader! There is something about Arbouretum that forces me to sit up and take notice. And no I wasn’t shroomin’. The truth is Arbouretum sounds closer to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy than Phish, and their jammy sonic explorations prove to be an expansive and admirable differentiation for the group. If imitation is the highest form of flattery Baltimore based Dave Heumann has should be making Bonnie aka Will Oldham blush like a school girl. Although the songs that work least on the album sound as though they are b-sides to ‘The Letting Go.’ Vocals and phrasing aside, ‘Rites of Uncovering’ borders on that age-old prog-rock proclivity toward the otherworldly, an important distinction that lyrically separates Heumann from Oldham’s insular psychosexual aesthetic. The greatest accomplishment of the album is the genius way in which the lyrical content and musical accompaniment thematically bleed together in a way that designs a soundscape that is almost tangible. Listening to ‘Tonight’s a Jewel,’ one gets the sense of participating in a bewildering journey through a desolate desert. Heumann himself describes the album as an effort to ‘get to the bottom of things,’ and Arbouretum’s rich textures convey a musical space both haunting and exploratory. Think a stoned night driving soundtrack as guitars darkly swirl and solos prove as meaningful as the vocals. Surprisingly a sense of exulted discovery is also an important ingredient, one that proves significant counterpoint to the dark desperation the casual listener first encounters. ‘The Rise,’ is a call and response post-apocalyptic tale but one that somehow manages to inspire hope for the future and the very human need to keep moving forward in face of insurmountable meaninglessness. Hippy jams. Check. Trippy reverb soaked vocals. Check. References to the sublime wonder of the natural world. Check. While all these aspects seem ripe for jam band assimilation, Arbouretum manages to move beyond the tired tropes and instead borrow elements from musical cousins like folk, prog, and noise in order to construct a cohesive if sometimes daunting existential composition.

Track Listing:-
1 Signposts and Instruments
2 Tonight's a Jewel
3 Pale Rider Blues
4 Ghosts of Here and There
5 Sleep of Shiloam
6 Mohammed's Hex and Bounty
7 The Rise
8 Two Moons

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live reviews

Corsica Studios, London, 21/2/2013
Arbouretum - Corsica Studios, London, 21/2/2013
Ben Howarth enjoys Baltimore trio Arbouretum's mix of country, blues and psychedelica at a gig at the Corsica Studios in London

digital downloads


Let It All In (2020)
Arbouretum return with one of their most sturdy official albums so far, spreading themselves out widely whilst remaining solidly grounded
Coming Out of the Fog (2013)

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