by Tiana Feng
Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Label: Club Roll Music
AroarA is the husband and wife duo of Ariel Engle and Andrew Whiteman of Broken Social Scene. This new musical project set out to translate Alice Notley’s 2007 poem book In the Pines into songs. Notley underwent Hepetatis C treatment and during that time experienced depression-era flashbacks. Her poems contained quotations from gospel, folk and blues music, styles that can all be heard in AroarA’s debut.
The duo recorded all 14 poems, but only 9 made it on the album. The tracks are all named numbers that do not correspond with the track number, as the poems are presented out of order. Despite the cohesive theme, each track is like its own adventure, different from the one proceeding. “#8” sounds inspired by the middle-east while “#10” if taken away from the album sounds like an accessible indie-rock song. “#3” is chilly, accompanied by a minimalistic guitar line and Engle’s own vocals.
Engle takes the lead role for most of the album, soaring and enchanting, doing Notley’s words justice. Whiteman takes vocals reigns occasional (“#7”) but it remains Engle at the center. The unconventional rhythms are a direct result of the lyrical content being poems, already written and having a pace. In the Pines is an album that takes multiple listens in order for its beauty to be properly appreciated.