Fernwood - Arcadia

CD 2014, 42:30, WhiteHorse One Music)

The tracks:
  1- Bells Spring(3:44)
  2- The Pan Chaser(4:56)
  3- Vision At Vasquez Rocks(3:59)
  4- Red Hill Trail(3:52)
  5- The Lost Night(4:21)
  6- Crossing The Divide(3:49)
  7- Owens Hideaway(3:51)
  8- Young Mountain Memory(3:18)
  9- After The Big Sky Falls(2:42)
10- Escape Down Sycamore Canyon(4:46)
11- Winter Way(3:12)

Website      samples     

Arcadia comes after the releases Almeria and Sangita and is already the third album made by Fernwood. They are from the USA and formed in 2006 by Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett. The latter musician is probably to the outside world the most known of the two of them. Gayle has written music for numerous film projects including Brad Pitt's “Year Of The Dog” and Will Farrell's "Everything Must Go". He has composed music for a lot of different television series, as well as for commercials, animations, computer games, music libraries, and other corporate applications. The prog scene knows him most of all as a member of Djam Karet.

The music which this duo makes is certainly very different to most of the releases which are reviewed on this website. They play music mainly performed on the so-called acoustic instruments. They go through a wide range of instruments such as bouzouki, sitar, dilruba, quirquincho, Chinese ruan, Turkish cumbus, Moroccan oud, harmonium, gimbri, rababa, bulbul tarang, jal tarang, dotara, surmandal, tambura, manjira, tumbi, bugchu, gopichand, violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, tenor banjo, tenor ukulele, bells and chimes, acoustic piano and upright bass-a lot of instruments most people have never heard about. Moreover, it is listed that they used Moog, Mellotron, organ and electric guitar as well. However this can hardly be heard in the overall sound. Too bad, because if this was the case, the album would have been more interesting for the progressive rock lovers.

What you now have are the echoes of folk music from half the world: from the British Isles, over North America and Greece to India-sometimes with jazzy sprinklings. Although the use of different instruments, coming from different countries, gives a wide range of different sounds, the music tends to sound much the same. Therefore it is very strange that not a lot of variety can be heard throughout the entire album. The album tends to move on and on without going into any interesting different musical directions. It certainly doesn't mean the musicians can't play decent on their instruments. That's certainly not the case. They master their instruments in a perfect way! But their playing could have been from time to time more aggressive. Everything sounds too mellow and too laidback. I almost would think they probably would have had problems to stay awake themselves while they performed their music.

Arcadia is an album that will only be enjoyed by a few people who enjoy mellow and laidback music-music which takes them on a musical trip around the world in which not a lot of variety can be heard. Too bad, because music made on acoustic instruments can sometimes be excellent too. Only this time around it is not the case.

** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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