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2/12 - Kinda Like An Amped Up, Tuneful Will Oldham

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The Man in Blak




This one's coming late to the press, thanks to the incompetence of the tech support folks at my occupation, who had issues solving the dangerous riddle of file transfers across workstations. Fucking Monday.


So, I gave Arbouretum's Rites of Uncovering a spin through the early morning doldrums and wasn't overly impressed. Brooding guitar-heavy folk rock, feeling very British in spots, and occasionally a little too close to Papa M for comfort, but the majority of the album falls a bit flat. The guitar solos are certainly nice, as Pitchfork will tell you, but they don't reinforce as much as they outright save some of these songs. If Dave Heumann (the frontman) shaves this down to an EP, then we might have something on our hands.


Heumann, a former associate of Will Oldham, holds Paul Bowles (who penned The Sheltering Sky) as a primary influence over the album, so there may be more for you here, perhaps, if you're a fan of the author's work. As for me, I've got less of an inclination for folk rock as it is, and Rites of Uncovering doesn't really break new ground or hit a home run in that particular field, so it comes in at a solid "Eh." Here's a couple of the tracks I enjoyed:


"Pale Rider Blues" (download available at Thrill Jockey) - Straight-away blues, with an overdriven guitar that climaxes into one of the better guitar solos I've heard in a while. Reminiscent of Hendrix's extended blues jams.


"Signposts and Instruments" - GLOOOOOOM. Probably too dark and serious for its own good, the album's opener still maintains a distinct charm about it. Perhaps it's the tremolo-soaked vocals or the vibraphone flyover that buffers out the guitar crunch almost three minutes into the song. Methodical, somber, and somehow captivating.


"Tonight's A Jewel" - That's right, the first three songs all appear here as recommendations. This one taps into some English folk, complete with a real clanger of a line in "if you hold the torch / best carry it with flair". But, yet, it's the most palatable folk indulgence on the album and (surprise!) it holds a nice little electric guitar ditty about halfway through.



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