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Dave Heumann
Here In The Deep Julian Marszalek , October 21st, 2015 20:33

The last time this writer encountered Dave Heumann was at the Green Man festival in 2013 when, fronting the mighty bucolic psyche beast Arbouretum, he engaged in a series of guitar solos so epic that the band managed to cram in just five songs in to their allotted 45 minutes. It was one of those festival moments that linger long in the memory. Engaging, hypnotic and truly beguiling, Arbouretum's set was far from self-indulgent; every note, every drone and every beat was an essential component to expansive and engaging story telling. So with Arbouretum taking a year-long break and Heumann scratching an artistic itch in the form of this solo album, the question arises of whether we get more of the same or something different?

Here In The Deep, though quite recognisably the work of Dave Heumann, is an album concerned more with song writing and one that finds him exploring the folk and country elements that have laid at the heart of Arbouretum's more psychedelic adventures. Consequently, the songs contained within its groove are shorter and more compact affairs and ones that display another side to Heumann's craft. Aided and abetted by a cast of supporting players that includes Walker Teret of Lower Dens on bass and Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, Here In The Deep displays another side to Dave Heumann.

As evidenced by opener 'Switchback', there's a lightness of touch that hasn't been associated with the day job. The love of fuzz and heavy chords is still firmly in place but here it's used to colour the song rather than drive it. This comes to the fore on the delightful 'Ideas Of Summer', easily one of the most gorgeous pieces of music that Heumann's been involved with. The gossamer arpeggios of his guitar twinkle and sparkle with a genuine sensitivity and it's the kind of pop music that REM would've made of they'd been more acquainted with hits from the bong.

Of the two instrumentals that grace the album, 'Leaves Underfoot' is the most startling, eschewing the Americana that's at the heart of Heumann's music in favour of influences that eminate from this side of the Atlantic. The other, 'Morning Remnants', finds Heumann in the more familiar territory of drones and repetition but even here he branches out with delicate flourishes across his fretboard. The subtlety that's displayed throughout is deftly played out on 'Ends Of The Earth', a track that builds from gentle foundations into a substantial climax of increasing tempos, noise and sensitive guitar work and it's hardly surprising that he's joined by the rest of Arbouretum here.

Clearly, this is the sound of an artist having fun, but one who avoids the trappings of self-indulgence. For a solo album, it bodes well both for Heumann as a songwriter and guitarist of note and for an audience ready to see another facet of his talents. Moreover, this may well be the start of something quite special.

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