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Greg Davis

Somewhat along the same lines as Fennesz's Endless Summer, Arbor is a release that probably started out as something more organic, but has since been tweaked (sometimes subtley and sometimes not quite so) into something that isn't really folk, yet isn't really straight electronic either. Labeled "laptop folk" by the Carpark website (a name that actually describes it quite well), it's a release that was obviously created with a human hand, yet skips and shimmers along with subtle touches that could have only come with digital trickery.

The majority of the album is quite subtle in its approach to blending elements together, and that's evident upon hearing the first track entitled "Submersion Tank Part One (v.2)" in which only quiet digital tones ring out and pan back and forth while quiet bits of static flutter in the background for a nice ambient opener. The second track "Coventry" keeps some of those same elements, and as different skipping tones slowly layer. Eventually, an off-kilter rhythm comes in. It's also on this track that an actual guitar part creeps in. That guitar part continues on the next track "Eleven Eight," which is one of the less "treated" tracks on the disc, with a nice guitar melody providing the crux of things while a subtle, electro rhythm blips out.

"Cumulus" also keeps the guitar part as the lead element in the track, and it's one of the prettiest tracks on the entire disc. Once again, the percussion is very subtle, and the clicks and glitches that surround the guitar melody fall in at perfect moments. Following quick on the heels, though, is "Nicholas," in which the most rumbling percussion comes into the album, spinning out of control at one point and into almost drum and bass territory.

Whereas I mentioned Fennesz earlier, Arbor is quite different in that it isn't nearly as processed sounding. While there are barely any moments on Endless Summer that can be picked out as actual guitar parts, Davis still anchors most of the tracks with lovely guitar melodies and builds on them from there. Because of this, it doesn't feel like nearly as an opressive listen, instead bouding along with some light pastoral energy that fans of Four Tet's latest Pause would probably enjoy. By the time the album titled closing track of "Arbor" rolls around, there's hardly any manipulation, except for a subtle bleed at the very end, as if the laptop has been packed away, and the realization is there that one doesn't need a lot of noise to make a point.

Rating: 7.25