hello AroarA people, we wanted to share three year-end posts (well,2 + 1) that put an extra bounce our in day. our philosophy with “In The Pines” was about keeping the scale human-sized and about revealing everything we could about ourselves and our attachment to this poetry of Alice Notley. we wanted to show people what pure naked feels like: partly liberating & partly terrifying. its amazing we got as far as we did.
this from michael barclay at radio free canuckistan
thanks mb, honoured to be there. we promise to konfuse you till your dying day.
this from NOW magazine in toronto, about one of the many show we played there in 2013. we get alotta love from tdot.
and this from Mike Usinger at the Georgia Straight in VanCity. it was my first interview with that paper and im really proud of it.
OCTOBRE 16. At the Sala Rosa on St Laurent, we will play “In The Pines” in a home-town celebration of the release of that record to the people of Kanada. It’s the last chance to see AroarA in Montreal until next year, at which point we’ll be somewhat of a trio. This year has been an incredible start for us and we thank ClubRoll Music and OPAK Media very much for the team effort.
show is 9pm & starting the show will our amazing friends The Sin & The Swoon.
“Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all.”
this from Andre Breton, magus of surrealism. The twins of desire and horror are holding hands while staring into a kiddie pool filled with mercury saliva. Not far behind them and shooting in 16mm is Emily Pelstring, an animator and video artist currently in montreal. Her works, and those of her collaborator, artist Jessica Mensch, embody the best meanings of the words “shock & awe”, with a healthy portion of “WTF?”
AroarA was recently part of a late august art project sponsered by the PHI Centre. It pairs 5 video artists with 5 musicians. They must write/film/score/edit/mix a brand new work in two weeks, start to finish. So there is very little time for preciousness or perfection. Perfect! Ed Wood, wouldn’t he? Together we created a ten minute surrealist masterpiece called “Thee Tayle of the Alycorn” which unites the worlds of ancient-future Egypt, black-death England, and terror-in-paradise Tropics. Original music (including lines cribbed from Chaucer) tells a story of a woman being unjustly persecuted for sexual practices. What else is new. But these dream stories must be told and the rituals must be enacted out, no matter how weird. & AroarA’s sonic gene-splicing continues: bboy boogie, medieval rounds, and third-generation exotica. and Ariel’s amazing voice singing the story of the Milk Maid.
o, Yes, we acted in it as well. We’ll be hosting the film on our YouTube channel, which will go live with our first video ( for the song #4 ) in the next few days.
ALL FOURTEEN of Alice Notley’s poems from her book “In The Pines” are now available. well, in kanada anyway. please check out The Cardboardbox Project ( our merch link ) as well as iTunes kanada. sadly, our vinyl wont be ready for a month or so – but please note, it will contain all the songs in a double-album format. plus incredible design by Derek at the aforesaid CBB.
thanks to everyone involved in helping this happen: dan, lenny, aaron & jonathon, andre, sarah, adrienne, les, the hydra, jason c & jorn, kevin selection, andreas, ryan, norman, jeffrey, martha, plus the myriad of people im forgetting at this second. & Most of all Alice N for allowing us to jam with her.
here’s a few mini reviews of the “In The Pines” full length.
You can almost picture AroarA – the Montreal duo of Ariel Engle, who performs in a satiny black-and-pink hooded cape, and Andrew Whiteman of Broken Social Scene/Apostle of Hustle – standing in the woods over a smoking cauldron, stirring in handfuls of hypnotic polyrhythms, drops of eerie imagery, tangles of Engle’s searing vocals and whispers of Whiteman’s more understated ones. Their debut full-length album is minimalist blues-folk (they use the term “faux folk”) of a strikingly original variety.
Based on Alice Notley’s avant-garde poetry collection In The Pines, about a woman haunted by Depression-era visions while undergoing treatment for Hepatitis C, the 14 songs come across as incantations – divined into existence and slowly building with intertwined voices, guitar-string-plucking, old-sounding samples and bare-bones beats. Engle’s potent voice has a magic all its own: on ghostly piano-driven #14, it’s almost a whine – a plea, but a beautiful one. Meanwhile, #1 soars with impassioned soulfulness.
In the Pines
par mark j lepage
“I was born to be your poet,” Ariel Engle gushes in the grand, incantatory and fully remarkable #14 (track one, they’re all numbered) of this fever-dream of an album. A song cycle derived from Alice Notley’s poems about drug treatment for Hepatitis C, it follows the spring EP by married Montreal duo Andrew Whiteman and Engle.
Never less than mildly thrilling, often eye-wideningly creative and spellbinding, it does not set into one mood or enfold itself into the obsession of the poems; instead, and despite this being a pair of folks, it’s aurally expansive. #8 (track three) is shamanistically oneiric. #10 (4th) is a touch of carny, #12 (8th) is a funky, grindy jam, and #9 (funnily enough, the 9th), with its “covered with human spirits in my pockets in my shoes” refrain, comes across like a weird blues chant. In the Pines is accessibly avant-garde, for those who might fear it or think it archly praised by pretentio critics. Oh, we are pretentio, but this is not. Podworthy: #14
rating – 4/5
par PATRICK BAILLARGEON
AroarA présente ici la suite de l’aventure entamée avec le EP du même titre paru il y a quelques mois. En neuf morceaux, le duo montréalais complète la série de 14 poèmes qui composent le recueil In The Pines de l’Américaine Alice Notley. Ariel Engle et Andrew Whiteman (Broken Social Scene) ont donné corps et reliefs aux poèmes qu’Alice Notley a écrit alors qu’elle soignait une hépatite C attrapée en se « shootant » au speed. En les enrobant principalement de sonorités blues et folk patentées, aux tons sombres et aux ambiances fantomatiques, le couple arrive à créer un univers à la fois magique et un peu sinistre. Pensez Tom Waits croisé avec les Fiery Furnaces ou les Eels, mettez-y la captivante voix d’Ariel Engle (bien plus convaincante que celle de son conjoint) et vous avez là un album fascinant.
Par: Steve Guimond
4.0 / 5
AroarA is the musical meeting of Broken Social Scene/Apostle of Hustle member Andrew Whiteman and his partner in sound and life, the enchanting Ariel Engle, familiar to most Montrealers through her stunning vocal work with one-time resident Sam Shalabi and his out-there Land of Kush big band projects. «In The Pines» is the duo’s first record, a lovely stroll through minimal pop, loose rock, and world bits (West Africa meets Middle East vibes) based largely around the pair’s guitars and keyboards. The music soothes and causes reflection, upon life and love, but it’s Engle’s voice that steals the show here for sure. If you heard her in Kush you know what I’m talking about. She has a way to command a room like few vocalists do. If you’re hearing her for the first time, be prepared.
AUGUST TWENTY SEVEN is the big day folks. you can order thru this site, or iTunes, or best of all yr local mom n pop record store bc this is gonna be VINYL….. or cd of course but the vinyl will have a full lyric sheet and the e.p. songs on a separate record.
AUGUST TWENTY SEVEN is also the birthdaze of these two guiding lights we’d like to honour:
By CARLA GILLIS
My Friday night got off to a great start thanks to AroarA’s spellbinding 8 pm set at the Silver Dollar. The small crowd was made up largely of photographers who never put their cameras down, but that didn’t stop the Montreal art-pop duo from turning on their charisma full blast.
Lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Ariel Engle oozes a sultry mysticism. In a satiny pink and black hooded cape/dress, she sang flitting melodies in a strong, soulful, utterly commanding voice while plucking hypnotically rhythmic lines from her electric and cigar-box guitars.
She also worked a Roland 404 sampler, weaving in ambient sounds, additional beats and harmonies, and, near the end, a gorgeous piano part.
But guitarist Andrew Whiteman (a founding member of Broken Social Scene) is just as integral. His guitar-playing chops impressed throughout, often drawing from Eastern music influences both ancient and contemporary. The final song found him and Engle sing-chanting “Be with the spirits” as a fog machine worked its ambience behind them.
Downtempo dramatic and hugely emotional. The crowd ate it up.
Hydra being an on-again, off-again band of friends who like jamming out with each other:
AroarA, Snowblink, Feist + Charles Spearin and Lucky Paul. we did three shows last week.
by TABASSUM SIDDIQUI
Those who’ve followed local troubadour Jason Collett’s Basement Revue every winter at the Dakota Tavern would recognize what a perfect fit the series is for Luminato’s multi-disciplinary bent, given that the Revue aims to bring together both music and literature. Dubbed the Courtyard Revue for its Luminato run at the Berkeley Street Theatre, the salon-style series (hosted and programmed by Collett) serves as the late-night afterparty of sorts for the festival, with Luminato artists encouraged to drop by for a drink, or even to take an impromptu turn onstage.
While it’s expected that Collett will draw on his social scene of notable musicians and writers, the exact lineup isn’t revealed in advance, making for a bit of a gamble. Thanks to some online hints this week, however, word quickly got out about at least one of the special guests: a seven-headed beast known as Hydra, a.k.a. one Leslie Feist, bookended by two musical couples – AroarA (Apostle of Hustle’s Andrew Whiteman and singer Ariel Engle) and Snowblink (guitarist/singer Daniela Gesundheit and multi-instrumentalist Dan Goldman), with Do Make Say Think’s Charles Spearin and Feist drummer Paul Taylor rounding out the “supergroup.”
The collaboration itself isn’t new – Feist first performed with AroarA and Snowblink during last year’s Polaris Prize gala and they’ve appeared together since at various events, including this month’s Field Trip fest – but this is the first indication that the group might actually have legs as an ongoing concern.
But before they took the stage last night for the second of their three appearances (tonight’s your last night to catch their set), a few more of Collett’s noteworthy friends took their turn at the mic. First up, everyone’s favourite indie instigator, Stars frontman Torquil Campbell, singing a few pretty acoustic numbers backed by Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew on guitar. Award-winning author Lisa Moore followed with a reading from her novel Caught, while Montreal singer-songwriter Patrick Watson and a bandmate created an atmospheric soundscape in the background. Watson and his band then offered an unplugged preview of their mainstage set at the Luminato Hub tonight, including a lovely rendition of Adventures in Your Own Backyard, with their trumpet player perched high above the crowd on a balcony.
But it was clear who most were there to see – and they weren’t disappointed. Though if Feist fans were expecting her to be the main focus of the group, they might have been surprised to find that Engle and Gesundheit more than held their own not only in the vocals department, but in their sheer command of the stage.
Performing each other’s songs as an ensemble, the group evokes a completely seamless effect – from the opening vocal harmonies of Feist’s How Come You Never Go There?, it felt like the three vocalists were born to sing together.
That sense of awe continued throughout the 45-minute set, from the ladies’ note-perfect birdcall trills on Snowblink’s Pray For Surf, to AroarA’s incendiary art-rock numbers. Not even a slightly muddy sound mix could dull the power of multiple guitars firing on all cylinders (ably aided by Taylor and Spearin’s awesomely heavy rhythm section), giving the set a raw, tribal feel far beyond the simple beauty of the various participants’ own work. And the best part? Getting the chance to watch three supremely talented female musicians get their due as phenomenal guitarists.