THE AERIALISTS – Dear Sienna (Fiddlehead Records)

Dear SiennaAlthough The Aerialists’ Dear Sienna spins in a distant orbit around any Irish Pub’s dartboard hub, it’s a wondrous Canadian album filled with acoustic magic.

‘The Rope Is The World (Intro)’ opens with Mairi Chaimbeul’s harp, which preludes ‘An Gille Dubh Ciar Dubh’, with a Gaelic vocal, Elise Boeur’s fiddle that gets jazzy, and Adam Iredale-Gray’s progressive guitar. This is clever music that echoes Sweden’s brilliant Frifot and Enteli. The title track, ‘Dear Sienna’, is even better with perfectly punctuated percussion, fiddle, guitar, and harp in harmonious union that, quite frankly, could be an acoustic moment of Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues In Aspic improv vintage. This is sort of prog-folk.

Now, Spoiler alert (for anyone reading Simon Critchley’s The Book Of Dead Philosophers): Pythagoras (he of a2 + b2 = c2 fame) died when he refused to enter a field of beans (that’s an interesting story in itself!) and was caught by his enemies and killed. But, truly, he would have given this record a rated “five”. More about that later.

That said, the album spins with more acoustic beauty. ‘Jay Vill’ has guest Swedish vocalist Isa Holmgren, who sings with Anthony Phillips’s Geese and Ghost purity. This has immense musical emotion. And ‘Que Forte Diamante’ pulses with French Celtic dance steps and a really nice electric guitar rock authority. Then the violin sings a folk tune, while the harp plucks a finely laced melody. And the engine room of bass and drums just propel the festive rivalry into a weird chaotic acoustic exhaustion.

‘The Rope Is The World’ gulps with a plaintive violin that sings with the harp and acoustic guitar. This tune makes ghosts real.

Ah – about Pythagoras’ “five”. He believed the number five to be “the marriage between the male and female even and odd numbers” (Thank you, Simon Critchley and your Dead Philosophers book). Or something like that. And this is Pythagoras’ “musica universalis or music of the spheres, where the entire cosmos was an expression of musical harmony (Thank you again, Simon Critchley!). Of course, The Beatles tapped into this very same “music of the spheres” when they sang, “She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah”.

These “spheres” rub tough textures across soft infinity.

And, as my friend, Kilda Defnut, when asked about the Pythagorean Theory, sometimes says, “The small stuff – when added together, will always equal a much longer thought”.

The rest of the album does that. ‘Lesson In The Losing’ has an English vocal that floats with pop-folk sincerity. Later period prog rock Caravan’s Canterbury pop-jazz comes to mind. ‘Jigs’ bubbles with folk carefree steps. ‘Raklekjoikin’ returns to the Swedish sharp and patient instrumental soul. ‘Orchard’ swings with another English vocal. This tune sings with the buzz of a lot of friendly bees who hum with poppy un-honeyed jazz.

Dear Sienna ends with the brief ‘The Rope Is The World (Outro)’ which touches a quiet and complete note to an album of acoustic music and wondrous magical moments.

Bill Golembeski

Artists’ website:

‘The Rope Is The World (Outro)’ – official video:

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