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Hush Arbors - Hush Arbors

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Artist: Hush Arbors

Album: Hush Arbors

Label: Digitalis

Review date: Apr. 18, 2006

Hush Arbors’ self-titled and self-issued CD-R might not have blown up on a grand scale, but it generated enough buzz to promptly sell out and quickly pique the interest of Digitalis maven Brad Rose, who remastered and reissued it this year. Keith Wood’s long play debut, though, remains unabashedly lo-fi, a humble disc of earth and air with feet on the ground and eyes on the sky.

While the archetypal lo-fi homemade recording is usually one of solitary performance, close quarters, even at times a sense of secrecy, Hush Arbors utilize the same tools in a far more expansive way. While others are often keen to use the constraints of their recording as shelter and protection, Wood finds ways to make the music breathe, and echo the atmosphere of something far bigger than a bedroom or basement. Were Wood a photographer, his photos would likely be out of focus, over exposed, and shakily shot, but simple and beautiful all the same. Wood embraces the drone, and layers his simple statements in delay and other effects to create a vaguely psychedelic gauze that seems to organically grow over the songs. There’s something almost archaic about tracks like “Wait for Awhile,” in terms of both the imperfections of the recording and the straightforward earnestness of Wood’s falsetto voice and playing style. The disc, at its best, is constructed in a manner that might be lush were it not so fragile and rickety.

Like many people, Wood’s songs aren’t at their best when naked, and the more unadorned tracks on the disc can seem lacking. It’s not necessarily indicative of a deficiency in Wood’s songwriting, but Hush Arbors’ music works best when he nestles himself amongst layers, using his skill in augmentation as songwriting tool. This is when the music really breathes, and when it feels as though it’s truly in bloom.

By Adam Strohm

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