‘Clearing’ from Arlet - care-free and down-right different(December 10, 2013)
A strange characteristic of ‘folk fusion’ is the ease with which ‘folk and …’ (insert whatever word you fancy) appear to come together to form something while at times not entirely unique, becomesidiosyncratic enough for independent recognition. The resulting mongrel, as is the way with such crossbred progeny, often stands eccentrically strong and develops a presence all its own.
The latest ‘folk fusion’ to come my way is ‘Clearing’ from Arlet. Although that name may be unfamiliar it’s not unreasonable to advocate they should gain wider appreciation with this album. It is definitely ‘something different’ – a mingling of strings, woodwind and brass that serves up a melodic and rhythmic feast. To pursue the gastronomic analogy - ‘Clearing’ is more of an epicurean experience than a gourmand blow out. There’s much to hear and it delivers some education for the ear. To appreciate what’s on offer you must dedicate serious time and attention. You must allow the band to guide you through the tracks as you would allow a master chef to lead you through a ‘gourmet experience’ menu.
Folk influences soak into orchestral layers through joining creative stimulations that at first don’t immediately blend. There’s echoes of jazz, elements of classical, touches of chamber music, suggestions of rock. Yet like that multi-course gourmet meal, progress through the creation to absorb the entirety, from the measured drive of ‘Aidan’s and ‘Ciao Ragazzi’ through the intensity of ‘The Woodturner’ and the elegant exuberance of ‘Summertimes’ to the spritely ‘Morning After’.
On ‘Clearing’ Arlet is composer Aidan Shepherd (accordion) Rosie Holden (violin) Ben Insall (guitar) Owen Hewson (clarinet) Thom Harmsworth (euphonium) James Gow (double bass) and Andy Renshaw (percussion) featured on selected tracks are Nick Walters (trumpet) and Raven Bush (mandolin).
‘Clearing’ is another folk offshoot that reassesses defining terms – progressive and experimental possibly, courageous and venturesome perhaps, maybe risky and explorative. To my ears it’s much simpler – an overwhelming sense of musicians enjoying themselves, care-free and down-right different. Not every listener will fall under its spell but those that do will find ‘Clearing’ is something special. Find out here: www.arlet.co.uk
Reviewer: Charlie Elland