Song Of The Rose by ArbouretumRelease date: March 24, 2017
Label: Thrill Jockey
If you have found the music of Arbouretum not to your taste in the past then it is unlikely that new album Song Of The Rose will sway you. If, however, you have recognised the gracious beauty that pervades their songs then you will not be disappointed. Hardly great experimentalists or movers from their core sound, they are nevertheless a band who define the great expansiveness of the American wilderness and in doing so, continue to fulfill fan expectations of good, honest music.
It’s the honesty that shines through for Dave Heumann and company, as they slowly unravel their giant sound. There are no hidden corners or agendas, they exist simply to be. Like a mountain, forever there, forever known. They may cause storms and tempestuous winds but they will never move from their dependable spot. Those storms and winds are what defines Song Of The Rose as the fragile existence of man against nature is explored.
‘Call Upon The Fire’ is typical of Arbouretum with its colossal riffs interlaced with intricate melodies, all driven by Heumann’s deep baritone. It’s a voice of the ages, providing a reassuring yet fragile edge to the towering sound. ‘Comanche Moon’ is the opposite, showing a delicacy mirrored later on by the strength and heroism of ‘Fall From An Eyrie’, a song of sublime power. It’s Everyman music, made for beating your chest too, but also for exploring your inner emotions.
The title track is a driving force, built on solid rock with the riffs driving you on. ‘Absolution Song’ feeds into the myth of the great American expanse, with images of stags running through water, nature and the beast, beauty and fragility all rolled into one. ‘Dirt Trails’ offers some slight relief from the foreboding heaviness with its jaunty organ and melodic guitar but this is only a stop gap before the aforementioned majesty of ‘Fall From An Eyrie’. By closer ‘Woke Up On The Move’ there’s an exhausting calm as the storms start to abate.
Song Of The Rose sits well with the rest of Arbouretum’s music and its dependable Grizzly Adams nature is a reminder that beyond politics and pain, America is a country of wonderful beauty and power. Times may change and people’s perceptions and ideas may alter yet underneath it all we are all still part of a greater force. Arbouretum tap into that force and harness it for their own means. By inviting you along you then become a participant in the call of the wild. They stir ancient emotions and bring a brutal honesty to the fore, and for that they deserve all the recognition they get.