This review was originally published on The Doughnut.
Damian Burke, back in 2012, referred to the EP from Arêtes as “undulating sleep-folk” and, for most of the full debut album, I agree.
I found that to really enjoy this album as a sound to chill out/relax/sleep to you need to skip past the first track. If you have the album on random play you’re going to have a bit of a shock when ‘Would Be Gods’ comes in. It’s easily the liveliest and most up-beat track on the album.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like the opening track – I do, although I’m not convinced by the echo effect on the vocals which give a ‘recorded in the back of a hall’ feel. I think it’s a cracking piece and it quickly became the ear-worm track of the whole album for me.
The eleven remaining tracks, however, take a very different route descending, as they do, into sleepier riffs and dream-like accompaniments. It amazes me how Arêtes manage to give so many flavours of ‘dreamy’ but they do – without ever being boring.
‘All My Sons And Daughters’, for instance, is beautifully haunting. The piece has hints of Moby meets The Beatles at their back-tracking best but is all Arêtes in style.
‘I Was Never Here Anyway ‘
By contrast, ‘Dyatlov Pass’ (the shortest track and the only complete instrumental) immediately made me think of the B side of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love album – not an inappropriate link considering the Irish connection – but this is for a new generation of listeners.
I could go on – ‘Forgetting How to Remember’ reminds me of 60s Pink Floyd’s ‘Julia Dream’ and so on – but I think you get the point. This is a wonderful chill-out album which manages to be inventive with enough acoustic and folk influences to be relaxed yet without becoming a ‘folk’ album. The psychedelic effects abounding through the album put you into space but there’s enough of a beat to keep a tether to terra firma. Traditional rock elements – Bass, electric guitar and drum kit – are kept to a minimum and used with carefully restrained skill throughout.
Singer and bassist Brian Semple, when speaking of the album title says:
“Mission creep is a political term, used to describe something that’s gone too far and got out of hand, because of greed or incompetence, or because it was a front for something more sinister all along. For me, it carries associations of cynicism and disillusionment, which are really the defining political sentiments of our generation.”
“Mission creep is a political term, used to describe something that’s gone too far and got out of hand, because of greed or incompetence, or because it was a front for something more sinister all along.”
Hats off to him for this but, despite Semple’s views, what I like most about this album is the lack of negativity. This has the chill-out of Radiohead but without hypnotising you into wanting to slit your wrists. This is an album counsellors will be able to recommend to insomniacs and manic depressives in years to come. You’ll get good rest listening to this album and come round later with a smile on your face and at peace with the universe. Well – I did anyway.