Known for its woods, blueberries and fishing, Maine has a long-standing tradition of folk music, with artists like Patty Griffin, Ellis Paul and Jimmy Cox hailing from the New England state. Coming from this Maine tradition of folk are Shanti and Buck Curran, the husband and wife who form Arborea. Both Shanti and Buck are multi-instrumentalists; Buck playing the guitar, slide guitar, bowed strings, flute, banjo and vocals while Shanti provides lead vocals, banjo, ukulele, bowed strings, harmonium and percussion. These sounds are found on Arborea’s Red Planet, released in 2011 via Strange Attractors Audio House as a follow-up to the 2009 House Of Sticks.
Arborea lists “wind and water, grass and sky, trees and poets, sex and wisdom, family and life” as its inspiration, and yes, this may sound like the typical description for a folk band and its music, but Arborea is so much more. The duo mixes folk, rock and alternative music to create acoustic songs that lean toward ambient music with Shanti’s Bjork-like voice creating an escape to Arborea’s magical wooded wonderland. Its songs tell chilling stories of the forest, nature and life, and this is translated to cinematographic music videos like those for the tracks “Black Mountain Road” and “River And Rapids.”
Though most of Arborea’s songs only feature Shanti’s vocals, those that feature Buck’s voice show how musically conjoined the pair is. The Currans draw from the sounds of classic rock and infuse these with contemporary inspiration as they list Led Zeppelin, Pentangle, Devendra Banhart and Espers as influences. This mingling of cultures and sounds can be heard in tracks like “Seadrift,” where the acoustic guitar seems to resemble the strumming heard on Pink Floyd’s “Money,” in a track that Arborea catalogs as psychedelic folk.
Arborea brings its experience of nature, family, love and music to its sound. There’s plenty of psychedelia here, but the acoustic blends and chilling harmonies seem to recreate the scenery of the state the duo represents.
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