Of Arrowe Hill
A Few Minutes in the Absolute Elsewhere
published: 28 /
Ouija Board Entertainment
Dark, but rewarding download and vinyl only fourth album from English folk rockers, of Arrowe Hill
If you’ve been fortunate enough to get your hands on of Arrowe Hill’s previous releases, you won’t be surprised to find that their fourth album, ‘A Few Minutes in the Absolute Elsewhere’, is a pretty dark affair. The record follows a loose narrative, and is split in to two halves.
The first, Death by Water’, seems to document a character’s arrival by boat (the sounds of a fog-horn and waves lapping against the shore lead us into album opener, ‘Stevie Smith Blues’). From there, the next six tracks seem to document a descent into dissipation, drugs and finally death, as our protagonist is ushered beneath the waves by the opening guitar strums of ‘Cor Cordium’.
As well as lyrical hints to the story being told here, the music in the first part of the album seems to paint a picture of a night spent blindly stumbling through dark city streets, falling prey to the temptations on offer – going from the more ballsy rock and jubilancy of single ‘The Bones Saying No to the Needle’, and through to the mournful ‘To Kill a Dragon’ – seemingly a message to a lost friend.
The second half of ‘A Few Minutes in the Absolute Elsewhere’ seems to go at more of a pace (although the song lengths throughout the record actually remain pretty constant). On side 2, ‘Playing with Fire’, the listener seems to be swept off to the streets of Paris, where a woman gets caught up with some unsavoury characters and falls foul of some heinous deed (or at least, that was my interpretation of it. You may well hear something quite different – that’s all part of the fun!)
After all this darkness and death, the album concludes with ‘Sorrow and Zest’, which clears the air, like you’ve just breached the water’s surface and come up for air. It’s a really chilled out, upbeat tune, and I defy you to find a better closing track on any other album released so far this year.
It’s the songs that really matter of course, and of Arrowe Hill have got them in spades on this, their most accomplished album so far. The brevity of the tracks has been brought over from previous releases (“always leave them wanting” seems to be a motto for the band), but the compositions themselves seem so much more complete and finely tuned. Tracks like ‘The Bones…’, ‘The House on Rue De La Chevre Noir’ and ‘Her Solipsistic Lipstick’ are absolute rock’n’roll gems.
‘A Few Minutes in the Absolute Elsewhere’ is an album that rewards repeated listens – not only because of its clever composition and its accomplishment as an overall recording, but because of the sheer class of the songs themselves, and the enjoyment you’ll get out of them.
The album’s available by download and on limited vinyl, so if you want a physical copy I suggest you grab one while they’re still around.
Stevie Smith Blues
The Bones Saying No to the Needle
It Ain't Half Dark, Mum
All Roads Lead to Quinns (Battle Hymn of the Republic of Eternal Midnight)
If There's a Light There, Dead Man
To Kill a Dragon
Cor Cordium (Bysshe Goes to Bel-Air)
On Pee-Wee Vermin (Another Day, Another Coffin)
Down the Dark Country Road
The House on Rue de la Chèvre Noire
You, the Night & Pere-Lachaise
Her Solipsistic Lipstick
Sorrow and Zest