Arborea | House of Sticks [Remastered]

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Folk: Alternative Folk Rock: Folk Rock Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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House of Sticks [Remastered]

by Arborea

" Husband and wife team, Buck and Shanti Curran, construct a fragile, resonant world with the same wide-open spaces Ry Cooder's captured so well on Paris, Texas. ~BBC
Genre: Folk: Alternative Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. River and Rapids [2009 Remastered]
3:37 $0.99
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2. Beirut [2009 Remastered]
2:52 $0.99
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3. Alligator [2009 Remastered]
3:31 $0.99
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4. Dance, Sing, Fight [2009 Remastered]
5:10 $0.99
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5. Look Down Fair Moon [2009 Remastered]
4:30 $0.99
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6. House of Sticks [2009 Remastered]
4:50 $0.99
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7. On To the Shore [2009 Remastered]
2:43 $0.99
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8. In the Tall Grass [2009 Remastered]
5:42 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
House of Sticks is the third release by the indie-folk duo Arborea. Following closely on the heels of their 2008 critically acclaimed self-titled record, it is a verdant, personal collection of singles, drawing the best tracks from their highly praised debut CD Wayfaring Summer and several new songs recorded between 2007 and 2008. Arborea also offers up new versions of their songs Dance, Sing, Fight and Beirut.

House of sticks is a continuation of the musical journey of Shanti and Buck Curran, as they conjure scenes of the wilderness and dwelling, and the vibrant people who exist within them. Partly recorded in a Depression Era hunting cabin nestled in the olden hills of western Maine, one can nearly hear the creaking floorboards and smell the wood smoke in the cold night air in the song Look down Fair Moon and sense the flash of wind and water in River and Rapids and On to the Shore. Their song In the Tall Grass is a riveting, intoxicating hum, suggesting a meadow at twilight, the whirl of sound broken only by the intimate promises of Shanti’s voice. Other songs were recorded in the parlor of a 160-year-old cottage, resurrecting the bittersweet melancholy of those who have lived and loved within the room in which the songs were made. The title track House of Sticks is an acknowledgment of the transitory conditions that join a family or home and the wild forces of nature and time that can so easily tear it down. Within each song of this collection, Shanti and Buck seem to stop time and exist forever in that perfect, solitary moment.

Musically, Arborea continues to carry on the experimental folk and progressive folk rock tradition that began in the 60’s and 70’s by artists such as the Pentangle, John Fahey and Sandy Denny. NPR’s ‘All Songs Considered’ producer Robin Hilton describes Shanti’s voice as ‘hypnotically beautiful’ and their songs as ‘memorable’, and ‘incredibly spare and beautiful’. With Shanti’s unique rhythmic and melodic banjo style, and the introduction of her harmonium, along with Buck’s haunting slide guitar, the duo creates an atmosphere of primitive ‘Paris, Texas’ Americana meets ‘modal visions of the Far East’, a sound that continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Arborea have excelled again with this release, yet another recording that establishes them as masters of their craft. This is a group that we will undoubtedly be hearing for decades to come.

REVIEWS

Performing Songwriter Magazine June 2009

Husband-and-wife duo Arborea are undoubtedly located on the folkier side of life. And their brand of folk is ethereal, bone-chilling and beautiful all at once. House of Sticks has a very organic feel, as one may imagine simply from perusing some of the song titles "River and Rapids," "Look Down Fair Moon" and "In the Tall Grass" - and it has the uncanny ability to transport the listner into a vastly different, dreamier world.
~Beth Walker Performing Songwriter Magazine/June 2009
Just Push Play page 26/27 (Odds and ends that the staff of 'Performing Songwriter' have been obsessing over)
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“Buck & Shanti are great people and make a great music as the duo Arborea . "House of Sticks" is brilliant!”
~Chris Darling 'US Folk' program/WMPG Portland Community Radio, Maine
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BBC 10 June 2009

Arborea, who hail from the state of Maine, aren't strictly speaking folk, country, or ambient but during the 32 minutes of their third album, the record drifts smokily somewhere between them all. Husband and wife team, Buck and Shanti Curran, construct a fragile, resonant world with a lingering Americana after-taste, shimmering with the same wide-open spaces Ry Cooder's captured so well on Paris, Texas.
Sounding like frayed, half-remembered, hand-me-down tunes, shaped and altered with each retelling, the fluidity and the sparse application of instruments wherein Eastern and Western modes gently mingle is the secret of this album's startling beauty.
Like other artists operating from the USA's east-coast indie folk scene (Espers, Fern Knight, ex reverie, etc), the music also involves an affectionate backward glance to late 60s/early 70s UK folk rock, itself cross-pollinated by the USA's psychedelic scene.
Whilst it's true that what goes around so often comes around, Arborea's take on all of the above is imbued with its very own distinctive brand of delicate, beguiling minimalism.
Plucked banjo notes on Look Down Fair Moon possesses a koto-like solemnity whilst a hymnal harmonium spreads out radiant lines of melody, slowly unfurling like the sun at the start of a summer's day on In The Tall Grass.
Sometimes Shanti's voice is little more than a frightened murmur, prompting comparisons to Vashti Bunyon, though not everything here is translucent or ephemeral.
A wry sensuality insinuates itself throughout Alligators, and for all her delicacy, Shanti's stylised articulation also carries an unexpected insistence instilled with an underlying menace on Beirut and the hypnotic Dance, Sing, Fight.
Here, her near-whispered reportage takes on an unsettling air, seeping through an intricate web of dulcimer and luminous slide guitar.
~Sid Smith
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/jn3n


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Pop Matters 26 May 2009

Anyone concerned with the perceived indulgence of the contemporary exploratory folk community should find comfort and relief with the music of Arborea. On House of Sticks, the Maine husband/wife duo of Buck and Shanti Curran ..al soundscapes that ignore fashion and strive for natural beauty. The arrangements generally focus on a handful of acoustic textures that weave and interlock beneath Shanti’s amber vocals. The opener “River and Rapids” builds from an odd-metered banjo figure to include hand-claps and buzzing strings. “Beirut”, inspired in part by the film “Paradise Now”, culminates in a layering of guitar parts that feels considered and purposeful rather than superfluous. The effect of listening to House of Sticks is that of time slowing down, the distractions of everyday life melting away, where each sound feels important in the mix. Of particular note are the atypically structured “Look Down Fair Moon”, the slinky Eastern-jazz of “Alligator”, and the ethereal vocals and cicada-like drones of “In the Tall Grass”, which closes the album as gently and mysteriously as twilight.
~Michael Metivier 7/10
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Babysue March 2009

The third full-length release from Arborea. This band is the duo consisting of Shanti Curran and Buck Curran. The Currans recorded House of Sticks in an old hunting cabin in western Maine. The ambience of the environment obviously bled its way into the music...making it sound slightly perplexing and haunting. This album features nice, smooth, organic, progressive folk tunes that would not sound out of place in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, or even in the twenty-first century. These beautiful, intricate tracks have a nice timeless quality that is engaging and real. The songs are sparse and gentle...and delivered with genuine personal warmth. A word of warning: You do have to be in the mood for this kind of music (i.e., if you're flying down the road with the windows down this probably won't be the right choice). Shanti has a really great voice that reminds us of some of the more subdued British female vocalists from the 1970s progressive era. This music extends far outside the boundaries of 2009 pop music and that is, of course, most admirable. Eight reflective cuts here including "River and Rapids," "Alligator," and "House of Sticks." Soothing and thought provoking. Recommended. (Rating: 5++/Excellent)
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Portland Phoenix, 1 April 2009

A Taste of Summer...Arborea remain singularly breathtaking

For pure, shimmering, lush beauty, Arborea are hard to beat. From Shanti Curran's ethereal vocals to, with husband Buck, their arrangement of all things stringed in cycling melodies like being surrounded by fluttering butterflies, they're like the voices of the forest.
If you haven't had a chance to meditate in their midst, new album House of Sticks, their first release on the Borne!/Acuarela label, is a fine introduction. It re-releases three songs from their self-released debut, Wayfaring Summer, provides alternate versions of two more, and then gives you three new tunes, never before released. You get their legacy — "Alligator" is a taste of Shanti's wild side — along with their future.
The new version of "Beirut" is even more direct in its simplicity, paired with lyrics that cut to the quick: "Won't you take me down to Gaza town/Won't you take me down to Beirut town/Walls are falling down/I feel the sound."
Maybe they're in a race with themselves to create the sparest possible piece. "Look Down Fair Moon" features halting notes picked out on a banjo (I'm guessing) that sounds like it was made sometime during the Civil War, recorded in a room that makes it glow with sound, then accompanied by Shanti's hum. Then it quickens its pace, and, late song, we get a just a barely breathed, "look down, fair moon" from Shanti that's then mimicked by the banjo. The song starts and finishes with a kind of thrumming static, like the search for aliens sounds, and there is an otherworldly quality to Arborea's general sound — like the sound of electrons vibrating.
In the album's title track, a chorus of Shanti vocals that recalls the gospel tradition, and there is something religious about what Arborea do, a universally life-affirming kind of thing. There are "three long days until the coming of the sun," they say, and on the fourth day, we'll rest.
~Sam Pfeifle
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Wears the Trousers, March 2009

“Our lives are nothing more than a fragile house made of sticks and set adrift in a great and torrential flood,” says Shanti Curran, one half of woodland spouses Arborea, in explanation of their third release. Part retrospective but wholly current in a personal sense, House Of Sticks collects together five songs from the duo’s out-of-print self-released debut Wayfaring Summer and three new songs. Of the older numbers, ‘Dance, Sing, Fight’ and the stunning ‘Beirut’ benefit from a sensitive reworking, reassuringly caressed with a gentle analogue hiss and swaddled in carefully constructed rustic atmospherics.
Shanti’s steely, echoing banjo picking on largely instrumental new song ‘Look Down Fair Moon’ gives the song a Spanish flavour, like wandering barefoot through a parched campo santo at midnight, while ‘In The Tall Grass’ relocates such ghostliness to a spring-haze stricken meadow. Here, all the senses are pricked alive by Buck Curran’s guitar work and the disorientating wheeze of a harmonium as Shanti raises her keening voice before breaking into a lullaby-soft verse. Serenely elemental yet a little unsettling and utterly transfixing, House Of Sticks is close to perfection.
~Alan Pedder

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