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Review of “Fortress of the Sun” and interview with Arborea: “Release the idea that time and space have anything to do with reality.”

September 24, 2013

Review of “Fortress of the Sun” and interview with Arborea: “Release the idea that time and space have anything to do with reality.”

The fifth album of Maine duo came as a push
of a fresh air to modern folk rock scene. 
Album connects artist`s views of life with melancholic sound in their
music. Buck and Shanti Curran recorded this album during the last winter, which
probably contributed to the atmosphere itself.
It opens with beautiful song “Pale Horse
Phantasm”. In the interview for “It`s Psychedelic Baby” Shanti describes the
song as “an age old tale about facing your fears”. This single already
attracted a lot of attention of the audience, especially as it was published on
the website of Rolling Stone Magazine. 
Real introduction into psychedelic folk comes with the second track
“Daughters Of Man” where Shanti expresses range of her gentle but powerful
vocal combined with mystical instrumental environment. Third track “After The
Flood Only Love remains”, individually probably one of the best tracks from the
album, is a spiritual song about love and positivity as the only saviors: “Life
is a battle we cannot gauge/ Time is a war we cannot wage/ Blood is the price
we all must pay/ Love is the shelter we all must save”. Next is a dark and
mysterious poem “Ghost”, performed by Shanti`s whispering voice and playing on
harmonium and banjo and followed by “Rider” with Buck as the main vocalist.
“When I Was on a Horseback” are a farewell words of a Cavalier who`s coffin is
being carried by four white horses. “Rua Das Aldas” is an instrumental inspired
by travelling through Spain and Portugal, eventually called after the street in
Porto where the band made some video shooting. 
Album ends with a cover of old traditional “Cherry Tree Carol” – Bible
inspired story of a Joseph and Virgin Mary.
It is hard to conclude this review without
saying that this is a true masterpiece of poetry combined with beautiful music
and produced in an album. Arborea did a very good job in making the folk music
sound not only psychedelic but contemporary and innovative. It follows the best
traditions of good, intelligent folk artists, where music is not only melodies
to listen, but words you can absorb like reading a beautiful tale entitled
“Fortress of the Sun”.
In order to get closer Arborea to our
readers, we wanted to talk with Buck and Shanti about their life, inspiration
and album itself. Although busy with tight touring schedule, they found some
time to extensively answer a couple of questions for “It`s Psychedelic Baby”.
© Shylah Curran
Hello guys. For a start tell me what inspires you to write such a
spiritual music?
Shanti: Our music is inspired by our ways
of thinking, our ways of living and our essence, our energy itself. It’s a
reflection of what we strive for, what we are always seeking and finding…the
songs, every note and every space between the note is US, a culmination of our
dreams and desires, a cohesive representation of our lives and how we choose to
live…
I read in an interview from 2008 when you said that you’ve played some
really fine gigs, but not as many as you’d like. Has the situation changed from
then? Do you play more often now?
Shanti: At this point in our lives we have
played so many amazing places and many terrible ones too…We’ve performed at
enough venues in various cities to know that the most important thing to focus
on is the energy of a place and the people that are there. Are they present
fully, consciously participating in the creating, sharing and receiving of our
message? That is all I am concerned with in regards to playing shows now…
As a couple, is it hard to be an artist who plays, records and travels
and parent at the same time?
Shanti: It WAS hard for so many years, but
to balance it all is a learned skill. We learn to live in the moment, reduce
expectations, divide tasks and chores, NOURISH each other and ourselves
individually and only focus on the positive, pay no attention to that which we
have no control over, and above all ENJOY the life that we have created through
our hard work and our dedication to our music.
Buck do you still work for luthier Dana Bourgeois and make guitars? 
Buck: I stopped working for Dana Bourgeois
at the end of 2009 and we started touring full time at the beginning of
2010.  Between 2006 and 2009 we could
only tour part time because of my work schedule building guitars.  I absolutely love making acoustic guitars,
but performing and recording music is where Shanti and I want to channel our
creative and physical energy.
With almost a decade of making music and performing together, tell me
have you met and played together with some of your music idols? 
Buck: We don’t have any musical idol’s per
se, but we have toured with quite a few of our contemporaries who are brilliant
artists and beautiful people….Helena Espvall, Victor Herrero, Ben Chasny (200
Years and Six Organs of Admittance, Glenn Jones, Chuck Johnson, Marissa Nadler,
Low, Mariee Sioux to name a few.  We are
playing a show a show in October with Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) that we
are really looking forward to.
Your 5th studio album “Fortress of the
Sun” was couple of months ago. You got some good reviews in Rolling Stone, Mojo
and many other magazines. Can you compare its popularity to the previous one
“Red Planet”? How long did the recording last?
Buck: We started recording ‘Fortress of
the Sun’ at the very end of last Summer (2012) and started with ‘When I Was On
Horseback’.  The album picked up speed by
the middle of Winter and the last two months of Winter were spent mixing the
album and preparing the artwork and release of the album.  We always work best in the Winter because
it’s quite cold here and you are forced to stay inside and not travel.  Everything we did with this album just felt
more complete as we were at a higher level. We were stronger as
musicians…individually as well as a duo, and also as a couple.  It’s also been a real pleasure working with
Bernard Stollman and the folks at ESP-Disk’. 
Our release coincides with the label’s 50th Anniversary and it’s an
honor to be on a label that has released albums by legendary artists such as
Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Pearls Before Swine, and Ornette Coleman.
First single “Pale Horse Phantasm” from the new album, has a lot of
views on Youtube and downloads from Rolling Stone Magazine website. Tell us
more about this song. What inspired you to write it? What is the story behind
it?
Buck: Shanti had written a poem titled
‘Pale Horse Phantasm’ and one day I picked up the guitars and the chords and
the structure of the song magically happened. 
Shanti can explain more about the poem and what she brought to the
song.  Some of the lyrics I helped write
were inspired by the dreamy imagery she was conjuring in that poem.  As for the music, I spent quite a lot of time
building on layers with different improvised guitar lines.  Everything unfolded in such a Beautiful
way…Shanti’s vocals, all the guitar parts, the drums (played by Anders
Griffen) and lastly the addition of my vocals.
Shanti: The story of Pale Horse Phantasm
is an age old tale about facing your fears. The Pale Horse is Death and in the
song, she is riding towards me, and though I am lost in confusion and sleeping
(my unconscious), the sound of her hooves begins to wake me and I rise and
walk, knowing instinctively that something is coming for me. The fear grows and
I attempt to escape death, and fear by running from it, and yet still she
follows…in the end, there comes the realization that one cannot outrun Death,
or Fear of Change and so I turn to face this Pale Horse and climb upon her back
and ride with her. What happens when you face your fear and discover that it
isn’t what you thought? What happens if you find that death is only the other
side of the curtain, or the other half of Life itself? It becomes your diamond
truth and it frees you. NOW you can live FULLY. So the Pale Horse was only a
phantasm, a spirit meant to guide you and lead you to the other side of
life…she teaches you to release your fear and embrace her, ride the wind with
her…
What is the story behind Rua Das Aldas? Was this instrumental inspired by some
of your visits of Europe?
Buck: Rua Das Aldas is purely an
improvised moment of music played on the acoustic guitar and then I went back
and added bamboo flute.  It was inspired
by my adventures with Shanti and our friend Victor Herrero…who we toured with
all over Spain in the Summer of 2011.  The title of the piece came from a visit to
Porto, where we all did a video shoot on the oldest street in Porto…’Rua Das
Aldas’.
What are the plans for 2013?
Buck: We’ll continue playing shows and
slowly begin working on a new album and planning more shows for 2014.  We also hope to tour in Poland, Serbia, and
Croatia in the future.
How would you describe modern folk rock scene in USA and Europe? What
new bands and artists can you name as those who inspire you? Which new albums
did you like lately?
Buck: The folk rock scene in the USA and Europe is alive and well! There are
so many talented artists creating important music today…but it does seem more
complicated for artists to find a large audience due to the fact that there is
so much out there on the internet and many musicians do not have the resources
or finances to properly promote their albums. You really do have to dig deep to
find the best music. It’s never been any easy path though…for Folk, Jazz or
Blues musicians. Without the backing of investors and major labels it’s a
challenge to get the music out there the way it deserves.  Even legendary groups like Pentangle, and
artists like Bert Jansch to this day are still not household names.  Look at how many decades Bert Jansch performed
and how many albums he released…and still, when opening shows for Neil Young
a couple of years ago…not many people in the US knew who he was.  Some of the new albums we are listening to
that we really enjoy aren’t necessarily psychedelic folk.  Sam Amidon’s ‘Bright Sunny South’ is great.
We also love some of acoustic pop artists like Laura Marling and Ben Howard.
Josephine Foster has a new album ‘Blood Rushing’ that’s quite beautiful..and
her husband Victor Herrero has a gorgeous album titled ‘Estampida’.  Maine based musician Micah Blue Smaldone has
a great album out called ‘Ring of the Rise’. I’m definitely looking forward to
the November release of the Jimi Hendrix ‘Miami Pop Festival’ album.
Do you have any message for the readers of “It`s Psychedelic Baby”?
Shanti: When you wake every morning, don’t
move your body for at least 3 minutes. Take good care of your teeth. Don’t
drink more than two alcoholic beverages a day. Don’t think bad thoughts about
other people, ever. Release the idea that time and space have anything to do
with reality. Ask yourself every day what makes you happy and then do that. Sit
in the sunshine and sit in the rain. Love yourself until you are weak with Joy.
Move your body. Release resistance to ANY and EVERYTHING. Desire beyond all
practicality. Desire until you grit your teeth and want to scream from the
wanting of it, and then release your desire and breathe. and Smile. Lift your
head up to the sky and say to yourself…”There are over one hundred
billion galaxies out there somewhere.” Never coerce any human. (or animal
if you can help it) Walk barefoot and take cold showers every once in a while.
Eat less. Be with those that make your heart sing, but realize that it is never
forever and don’t ever blame them when the song stops. Seek out good music. Go
to shows, there is something completely magical about hearing music performed
live and the people who are playing the music NEED you every bit as much as you
need them. Walk softly and share your light.
Review & interview made by Andrija Babovic/2013
© Copyright
http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013
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