The Gathering, Arbouretum's fourth album, was to a large extent inspired by The Red Book by Carl Jung, or more specifically, Jung's pursuit of the inner images that led to the book's writing. Dave Heumann, the singer, guitarist and main lyricist of Arbouretum, has long been a fan of experiences that surpass comprehension and describe the numinous. The narrative of "losing one's way and finding it again" resonated deeply and it was in this context that the songs that comprise The Gathering came to be.
With elaborate and very allegorical imagery, Heumann's lyrics take the listener with him on an adventure, filled with conflict, redemption and revelation. The central metaphor of the track "The White Bird" refers directly to the book, while other songs are more generally inspired by Jung's archetypal reservoir of experience, for example, the epic "Song of the Nile", with its themes informed by Gnostic mythology.
The concept and the band could not be better matched. The song structures that Arbouretum favor are open, never a simple verse chorus verse chorus, with several points at which Heumann's guitar and Allender's overdriven bass might come off the rails, tessellating and unfolding into long, expressive instrumental passages. (This is especially true in their live performance, an expansive and always unique show ï¿½ a taper's dream.) In order to further open things up, Heumann restructured the band's instrumentation from what had been two guitars, bass, and drums, replacing one of the guitars with Matthew Pierce's keyboards and percussion. The propulsive rhythms of Carey's drums provide an underlying groundwork for Heumann's guitar solos to weave in and out of, further taking advantage of the newly opened space. The Gathering and the band's live performances manifest themselves according to time and place, and the band excels in situations where ideas have time to develop and reveal different facets of themselves. Whether it be in a live setting or in the lyrical vignettes that slowly unravel within the songs, their essence is rooted in the realms of ecstatic experience.
The Gathering was recorded by Matt Boynton at New York's Vacation Island Recording. Boynton, who had recorded most of Arbouretum's 2007 release, Rites of Uncovering, was well-positioned to embrace the overall concept. He was able to capture vivid sonic details while employing extensive creative experimentation. The vocal on "Waxing Crescents" was recorded and then processed through the filter section of an early ARP synth, which was manually adjusted in real time while a medium-long delay was applied to an otherwise unprocessed copy. The effect is subtle and unsettling. On their version of "Highwayman", Pierce's Rhodes was augmented by a variety of synths, specifically, a Juno, a Nord Lead, and an ARP organ-like patch processed by a tremolo pedal. The attention to detail in recording and in writing, in concert with the performance, result in the other-worldly experience of The Gathering. Andy Cook's cover photos, like The Gathering itself, tell of ineffable mystery. It is a gathering of those enamored of wonder.
Arbouretum will be touring the US in February and March before traveling to Europe.
Dave Heumann (Guitar // Vocals), Corey Allender (Bass), J.V. Brian Carey (Drums), and Matthew Pierce (Keyboards and Percussion).