Since 2011, the Kent-based band Arlet has been defined as standing on the line between chamber music and British folk. Clearing is Arlet’s first full length album following their self-titled EP.
The band combines orchestral layering with melodic folk for a unique, individual and distinguishing sound. The five-piece band is driven by accordionist and composer Aidan Shepherd, who synthesizes various different instrumental families to create a large and complex sound; namely woodwind, strings and brass. However the use of electronic sounds in its production gives the album a contemporary tone. It is this diversity that gives Arlet their defining individuality and originality.
Aidan’s, Soundtrack and Song for Someone begin with a steady introduction progressing into a broader harmony of sounds. These tracks offer a sweet and comforting yet energetic vibe. The prominence of the accordion gives these tunes a particularly warm and folky sound.
With strong fiddle and brass lines throughout, tunes such as Ciao Tagazzi and V12 are two of the more orchestral tunes on the album. They bring to mind the style of traditional sets of jigs and reels in terms of their structure and movement between parts.The Woodturner moves seamlessly from steady and haunting to quiet with increasingly complex and ever-transforming instrumental lines, seeming to epitomise the term ’progressive’.
The introductory track for Summertimes has a significantly electronic and contemporary feel to it that reminds one of alternative folk artists such as the late Martyn Bennett . Summertimes was created as a musical reflection of the British summer, and this uplifting fiddle-led track truly does the job as a fine collection of gentle and melodic folk tunes.
With its quick yet winding pace and the pluckiness of the guitar and mandolin, Medway Services is light-heartedly reminiscent of the service station it is named after. Morning After boasts a catchy, tight rhythm and enticing melodies. Fast-paced and plucky in places, and sweet and lamenting in others, Chasing Tales is led by the emphatic and confident trumpet to give jazzy tones to the piece.
The overall effect is of a harmonious, progressive and even quietly epic sound. Clearing is true to the tradition of folk music in the comfort of its deliverance, yet experimental enough to push the musical boundaries in very unusual ways. The ever-changing pace, rhythm and melodies of each song make the album a captivating listen. Intelligently subtle, modest and non-confrontational in its entwinement of folk, electronic and orchestral elements, this album is likely to appeal to young, experimental folk and classical enthusiasts.Emily Bright
Released by Smuggler Records 9th September 2013
2. Ciao Rigazzi
3. The Woodturner
4. Summertimes (intro)
9. Medway Services
10. Song for Someone
11. Chasing Tales