Hush Arbors/Arbouretum: Aureola

Two US bands go dutch on their new release.

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You might think that releasing a split album would be the least effective way for an artist to package their creative vision. It’s a curious format for any band, let alone two progressive ones, and it takes a maverick label such as Chicago’s Thrill Jockey to deliver something as unconventional as this. Aureola is a joint offering from Baltimore heavyweights Arbouretum and folk affiliate Hush Arbors.

The latter’s Keith Woods keeps an impressive handle on proceedings. The medicated, Neil Young-like Lowly Ghost is an absolute delight, drawing you in with its snaking heavy guitar fuzz and teasing your expectations of what’s to come on the flipside. The affable, lyrically pensive People & Places is the stand-out track, as the Arbors wander the same dreamy paths as The Byrds once did.

From the ashes of inconsequential tune The Sleeper emerges Arbouretum’s New Scarab, stomping heavily but rarely kicking beyond a plodding Earth-like rhythm.

On certain tracks – notably The Black Sun - there’s a glimpse of the radiance they found on their 2004 album Long Live The Well-Doer, and the psychedelic St. Anthony’s Fire closes this worthy alliance.