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LIVE REPORT: Hush Arbors & Arbouretum
Julian Marszalek , May 8th, 2012 13:25

Julian Marszalek praises a joint outing by Hush Arbors and Arbouretum. Picture thanks to Elinor Jones

If Mark Lanegan made a good fist of keeping his overheads down in a recession by lending his talents to any number of collaborators then psychedelic explorers Hush Arbors and Arbouretum are pointing the way forward in the shape of their splendid split album, Aureola. It's a tactic that makes perfect sense – take two bands whose shared end of aural cosmic expansion are arrived at by differing means to create a rounded experience while gaining a whole new audience with half the hassle.

And so it proves at Cargo, a venue whose over-cautious approach to security, a near Orwellian reliance on surveillance and a list of rules so long as to be patronising beyond the call of duty. Though the venue's paranoid stance is at serious odds with the musical objectives on offer tonight, both bands succeed in creating psychedelic experiences that arrive from opposite ends of the musical spectrum.

For Keith Wood, the not-so-sinister Mr Big behind Hush Arbors, this means a more pastoral approach that suggests a bucolic afternoon sampling the best mind-altering substances nature has to offer. With his tremulous, high-pitched voice and delicate plucking on his guitar, Wood cuts a vulnerable figure that elicits rapt attention rather than sympathy. If his solo turn in the spotlight suggests a balancing act that could see interest wane or peak on the turn of a coin, then the arrival of guitarist Leon Dufficy and his phalanx of effects pedals and creative ideas shifts Hush Arbors into an altogether different sphere. A master manipulator of sound, Dufficy's ethereal sounds and sonic sweeps are offset by Wood's bent and strangled notes that give way to huge swathes of feedback. The result is utterly beguiling, as beatless waves of sound wash forth.

Whereas Hush Arbors rise from delicate sounds, Arbouretum crank up the sound, set the controls for the heart of the sun and stomp on the warp drive. The tar-thick riffing that ushers in the monolithic 'When Delivery Comes' is diametrically opposed to Hush Arbor's idyllic approach but the final destination is the same – a form of hypnosis that allows the brain to disengage from reality and float away to other dimensions. Arbouretum's subtle yet methodical approach to turning the psyche screws hits new levels on 'Waxing Crescents'. With the rhythm section locking in to a steady and mesmerizing groove, singer-guitarist Dave Heumann raises the anchor and sets sail on a swirling, dizzying odyssey of six-string dexterity. Creating a vortex of sound, the only way to react to this is spontaneously and instinctively and so it is that the feet and hips take over.

With a melodic sensibility that suggests Celtic influences, Arbouretum are perfectly placed to exploit the endless possibilities offered by drones and sonic exploration. Even when tackling other people's material – both John Martyn's 'Run Honey Run' and Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Long As I Can See The Light' are given major overhauls – there remains enough of Arbouretum's personality to prove that they're not taking the easy option.

An evening of complementing talents, tonight's gig, along with the album that spawned it, shows how much can be achieved with co-operation and shared vision. Let's hope we see more of it.

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