“Keith's music suggests some strange place where John Philips, Merle Haggard, Charalambides and Federico Garcia Lorca all occupy the same neighborhood tavern.” - James Jackson Toth
Toth’s description of Keith Wood’s songwriting (the principal force behind Hush Arbors and a kindred spirit to Sunburned Hand of the Man, Thurston Moore, Ben Chasny, et. al.) hits the nail on the goddamn genre-bending head. Wood’s music has traversed the proverbial plain of underground psychedelia, tunneling into the deepest crevices of drone-folk (Since We Have Fallen), swayed to the boozy casualness of distorted country-rock (Landscape of Bone), and plunged headfirst into modern electric circus-rock (his Ecstatic Peace! Releases.) This album, a Record Store Day release split with Arbouretum, seems to be the culmination and climax of that history, and makes me sort of worried (are you about to kill yerself Keith?) Or rather, it proves Hush Arbors to be as creatively vibrant as ever. I’m less familiar with the epics of Arbouretum, but Dave Heumann’s war-cry of a voice, blistering electric guitar leads and the band’s overall earthquake of a sound is a refreshing reminder of why I still like rock music after all. Starting at the 2 minute mark, “St. Anthony’s Fire” is an all-out distorted assault, and increasingly intense with each passing second. The reserved raucousness of Hush Arbors and the wide-open, slow-burning intensity of Arbouretum complement each other extremely well, and make this a damn fine record.
Recorded in New York and San Fran but transmitted from on high. My over-educated mind associates the early universe with the unfathomable; the 1 Big 1 of our birth that scattered out for thousands, millions of miles in less than a second, less than that even, incomprehensible clouds of gas that cooled into rock and then hellishly collided at speeds that would’ve disintegrated human eyes had we tried to watch it happen. Some way down the line came the big fireball, Old Hannah was born and burned herself into being the baddest motherfucker in the solar system. I think this record imagines seeing that process from afar, watching it from some extraterrestrial terrain where alien folkies and dropouts gather for warm potlucks in the dead of winter, strum little alien songs and drink hot psychedelic alien teas. Jesse Peterson and Carlos Niño’s songs aren’t really about any of that, but the steady, pulsing and swelling sound of the nylon strings and various electronics/tape loops/organs that complement their stoned-humming voices would be an excellent soundtrack for watching fire meld into fire. “Let me set on fire, I love you” says one lyric; so maybe. As with most astronomical events, this record’s best enjoyed in its entirety, but all the songs are great and appropriate for anytime your mind is feeling focused.