‘Pale Horse Phantasm’ by Arborea
Despite building up a casually spellbinding body of work since their 2006 debut, Wayfaring Summer, Arborea have lamentably remained on the undercurrents of the new media radar. No entry on Pitchfork, for instance, although the old guards have paid their dues (their previous effort, Red Planet, showed up on Rolling Stone’s The Best Under-the-Radar Albums of 2011 list). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — Arborea sound like a complete anachronism. And especially on days like today, when everyone is foaming at the mouth in frustration over a couple of robots’ decision to play actual instruments for once, their appeal feels all the more out of step.
Purveyors of mid-century folk minimalism, husband and wife duo Buck and Shanti Curran create solace-seeking music that stretches and sways as patiently as grass. They were sometimes associated with the folk-revival movement that bubbled up in the late-aughts and appeared on a couple of compilations alongside artists like Larkin Grimm, Marissa Nadler, Mariee Sioux, Alela Diane and Meg Baird. But what really made them stand out was their mystical lean; a gothic/pagan inflection to their scales and lyrics that’s very much indebted to Pentangle, Jack Rose, Mazzy Star and the alchemical cross-section between.
Even if you weren’t able to physically hear the music within this mysterious and heavily symbolic new video for “Pale Horse Phantasm,” you’d instinctively know the sound. I mean, it is called “Pale Horse Phantasm,” for one. Also, Buck is actually a trained luthier (someone who makes or repairs lutes and lute-derived instruments), a profession that sounds as opaque and archaic to me as blacksmith or apothecary.
Listen to their new album, Fortress Of The Sun, on Soundcloud. It’ll be available digitally on May 20th.