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Published: 2013/01/18
by Sam Robertson

Arbouretum
Coming Out Of The Fog

Thrill Jockey

With their fifth album Coming Out Of The Fog, underground psychedelic rock band Arbouretum offer up their most mature, fully realized release to date. Arbouretum is the brainchild of singer and guitarist Dave Heumann, who has backed Bonnie Prince Billy and Cass McCombs but uses this band as a vehicle to explore heavier, experimental rock. If anything, Arbouretum have mellowed out a tiny bit with their new album, with folk influences creeping in amongst brazen jams. Coming Out of the Fog unquestionably retains a sludgy, stoner rock edge, but their sound is now embellished with a more melodic approach.

The album opens with gently strummed electric guitar and vocals before drums crash in, turning leadoff track “The Long Night” into a Neil Young & Crazy Horse-esque rocker, highlighted by piercing notes from Heumann. They dip into less conventional territory with the album’s third song “The Promise,” which unwinds into a ferociously heavy jam, part seventies Krautrock, part aggressive noise rock. After the pummeling assault of noise that opens the album, “Oceans Don’t Sing,” a ballad with delicate vocals and soaring pedal steel guitar, delivers a welcome change of pace.

The album’s longest track, “All At Once, The Turning Weather,” kicks off side two, and, clocking in at just under seven minutes, features plenty of heavy riffage from Heumann as he patiently weaves his way through the song’s menacing rhythm with acid-washed soloing. Frantic instrumental “Easter Island” perfectly tumbles out of the fuzz jam at the end of “World Split Open” and finds Arbouretum picking up the tempo to near-punk energy before the band closes things on a more relaxing note. The album-closing title track, a psych-folk gem, features soothing vocals and plaintive piano beautifully complimented by light touches of pedal steel.

“Coming Out of the Fog” and “Oceans Don’t Sing,” the two dreamy folk songs on the album, stand out even more in contrast with the primal psychedelic rock full of throbbing, distorted blasts of electric guitar. Throwing together echoes of Fairport Convention and Neu!, the Grateful Dead and Black Sabbath; Arbouretum have developed their own sound over five albums together. Thunderous and intense but also gentle and lush, Coming Out of The Fog is both fluid and full of surprises.

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