The Arboretum – Falls The Shadow
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 47:21
Review by Beth Jones
Reviewing is a funny old game you know. You get to listen to such a wide range of new music that it’s difficult sometimes for it not to all meld into one. Then you get the occasions where an album absolutely knocks you off your feet it’s so damn good, and then you get some occasions where what you’re listening to just leaves you cold and a bit “meh”. I don’t like those occasions, because I’m not really into criticizing bands just because I don’t like their music. There’s a difference (usually) between bands not being to my taste, and bands just not being particularly good. And that’s an important point to remember when you read the rest of this review. So, The Arboretum, and their new album “Falls The Shadow”. What is it? How does it sound? Do I like it? Let’s approach those questions in that order.
“Falls The Shadow” is the second album from UK based The Arboretum. It has (as with most of the stuff we’re getting at the moment) been recorded in lockdown, amid the confines of the pandemic. The band describe their sound as “A sonic wall of sound, featuring loud guitars, deep grimy bass lines, industrial electronic rhythms, all layered over a hard-hitting rock-dance groove.” Hmm… Well, maybe, but I’m mainly getting Kula Shaker with added industrial synth, I have to be honest.
The album starts promisingly, with the opening industrial synth work on ‘Bone-Saw’. But then it just descends into ambience, where you can’t really hear anything with any definition. It would probably be marvelous if you were high as hell, in some sort of secret chill-out lounge in the upper echelons of an elite nightclub in London, snorting cocaine off the back of a naked male model, body painted to look like a table. But when you’re listening to it with a cup of tea, on a slightly overcast Sunday morning somewhere in Wales, it doesn’t have quite the same effect.
And this pretty much sets the tone of the rest of the album. Encouraging industrial intros that quickly turn into overly repetitive ambience. Apparently, according to their press release “this album tries to reflect a spirit of hope and love from within the heart of the storm.” I really can’t comment on this, because you can’t hear any of the lyrics, as they’re lost in the ambience. I also don’t think this truly falls into the bracket of Rock/Alternative. It’s more 90’s inspired Indie Pop/Trance. The fact that BBC 6 Music are all over these guys tends to back that thought up too, as they don’t ever stray too far from what they know, and like to remain ‘artsy’, shall we say…
Whilst I can appreciate what they’re trying to do (maybe), for me all this album does is firmly concrete in a fourth wall between the artists and the audience, which to my simple mind, is a step backwards from where music should really be heading. And I’m going to shut up there because I don’t really have anything constructive to say. It’s probably a great album, if you like that sort of thing, but it’s not for me.
‘Falls The Shadow’ (Audio)
04. Falls The Shadow
05. Absence Of Light
06. Liquid Planet
08. Beyond This Horizon
09. Cold Grey Steel
No idea – it’s all very mystical!
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