WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2007 |
Arbouretum’s second disc is a journey into the soul of the human condition. In the words of lead singer/songwriter and guitarist Dave Heumann, the Baltimore-based band aims to "convey the emotional impact of an experience or state of mind to the listener," and Arbouretum largely succeedes in that endeavor.
Rites of Uncovering opens with the welcomingly melodic "Signposts and Instruments." With its Simon & Garfunkel-reminiscent guitar plucking and Hermann’s commanding yet vulnerable vocals, the song pulls the listener right into the fold - a conversion, if you will. This serenity begins to unravel, however, with "Tonight’s a Jewel." The track itself is a jewel for those who love old time, down 'n' dirty blues, containing a seamless dichotomy of delicate guitar riffs and furious soloing that would make Jack White envious. The recording is intentionally primitive, as the echoing of Hermann’s voice makes apparent, and it accentuates the emotional hollowness that permeates the song. The frontman's reverberating vocals resonate as though he's lost inside a cathedral, singing his confessions to the audience as the anger in his music steadily builds.
The list of succeeding songs demonstrates Abouretum's contempt for convention, as their long, loose jams are purposely devoid of the commonplace structures of contemporary music. That isn’t to say that they're incapable of skillfully arranged song craft; “Sleeps of Shiloam” is a standout track showing pop craftsmanship in the vein of latter-day Pearl Jam. The sinister baseline and haunting vocal melody of the closing track, “Two Moons”, acknowledge that the band, along with their audience, are no longer the naïve souls that were converted at disc’s beginning. Rites of Uncovering does take you on a spiritual and emotional journey, and it's one that defies convention. - Justin Thomas