AroarA is the new duo from Montreal’s Andrew Whiteman (Broken Social Scene founding member, Apostle of Hustle) and Ariel Engle. They play amplified cigar box guitars and use a 404 sampler to trigger mellotrons and Black Sabbath bells. It is a new type of minimalism, which allows the emotions to come through unimpeded by bombast or blarney. Vocal duets, twin guitar lines and thundercloud drum machines are their stock and trade.
AroarA’s first foray is based on the work of avant-garde American poet, Alice Notley. Her acclaimed book of poetry, "In The Pines", was first published in 2007 and relates the spiritual and visionary experiences of a woman undergoing a cure Hepatitis C. Her visions are Depression-era tableaux; Notley’s book is laced with quotations from gospel, folk and blues music of that period. The song fragments along with powerful imagery throughout the poems inspired AroarA to transform the work into music.
With Alice Notley's permission, AroarA recorded fourteen songs corresponding to the fourteen poems in the book. They used the words from each poem to make faux- folk song forms and then added beats, melodies, and vintage sounds to create their debut record entitled, "In the Pines". The effect the record has on listeners is otherworldly; both ghostlike and visceral. Their music is not easily compared. It leaves you with the uncanny feeling of something both equally familiar and foreign. The album was recorded in various living rooms across Canada and mixed impeccably and minimally by Sandro Perri (Constellation Records).
In their brief existence AroarA has opened for friends Here We Go Magic, Syrian sensation Omar Souleyman, Dirty Three and fellow Montrealers, The Besnard Lakes. With both of Alice Notley’s poet sons and Thurston Moore in attendance, AroarA’s watershed NYC performance at the Poetry Project last fall concluded in a standing ovation and heartfelt praise from the Notley family. AroarA most recently revealed “In the Pines” to the wider audience of singer Martha Wainwright, with whom they toured most of the last autumn in the Northeastern US as well as in Europe; both opening as direct support for Martha and as members of her band. They have also found time to create a new “supergroup” with Feist and Snowblink, performing a round robin of each other’s songs. AroarA will go out on the road again with Martha Wainwright on a string of dates slotted for early March across Canada.
The first time Andrew read Ariel “In the Pines”, she exclaimed, “If Alice Notley was church, we’d go.”
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