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Lewiston, Maine, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

Lewiston, Maine, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Best of Echoes 2013 Listener Poll"

Arborea makes Best of Echoes 2013 Listener Poll - Echoes

"AllMusic Favorite Singer/Songwriter Albums of 2013"

Arborea makes AllMusic Favorite Singer/Songwriter Albums of 2013 - AllMusic/Rovi

"Acoustic Guitar Magazine 'Best Albums of 2013'"

Fortress of the Sun
Shanti and Buck Curran always manage to top themselves with each new album. Fortress of the Sun is no exception. With this release, the psych-folk wife/husband duo perfect their ethereal, droning sound, paying tribute to the blues and traditional music, all within a forward-thinking, experimental lens. (ESP-Disk)
~ Amber von Nagel, AG Web Editor - Acoustic Guitar

"KEXP Song of the Day: Arborea - Song For Obol"

The indie folk-rock duo Arborea hails from Maine, an earthy enough beginning for husband-wife founders Buck and Shanti Curran. Since their inception in 2005, the pair have been touring off and on behind two albums of catchy, woodsy folk, performing alongside performers such as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Both members of the band are multi-instrumentalists: Buck plays guitar, slide guitars, bowed strings, flutes, banjo, and backing vocals, while Shanti provides lead vocals, banjo, ukulele, bowed strings, harmonium, and percussion. Now, they’re celebrating the release of their fourth and latest album, Red Planet, which incorporates newer elements like cello into the mix.

Today’s featured song, however, showcases a different side of Arborea -- a stripped-down banjo accompaniment supports Shanti’s hallowed vocals, jerking you out of your seat and planting you firmly against a tree in the forest. Elfin, almost mystical in its soprano, Shanti’s unique lyrical delivery and soft fingerplucking call to mind a time long past. Her closest vocal relative may be the Marissa Nadler, the acclaimed singer-songwriter whose mastery of melancholy could make a puppy cry, but Shanti’s vocals add a hint of optimism, a sprinkle of hope that settles on the leaves. - KEXP Seattle

"KEXP Song of the Day: Arborea - A Little Time"

Equal parts psychedelia and folk, Buck Curran and Shanti Curran are the Maine folk husband and wife duo known as Arborea. Formed in 2005, Arborea draws inspiration from progressive folk and rock traditions of groups like Pentangle, Tim Buckley and Led Zeppelin, as well as contemporaries Espers, Ray Lamontagne and Iron and Wine. Buck plays guitar, slide guitars, bowed strings, flutes, banjo, and vocals. Shanti provides lead vocals, banjo, ukulele, bowed strings, harmonium, and percussion.

Their latest album, Red Planet, is the followup to their 2009 release, House of Sticks, on Borne! Records, and it perfectly captures the group—multi-instrumentalists Shanti and Buck Curran, as well as the guest work of cellist Helena Espvall (of Espers). It was even picked by Rolling Stone as one of the “Top Under The Radar” albums of 2011. The Maine-based group’s sound has certainly matured, but there’s still a raw quality to the material that feels natural and honest. The album includes a rich array of string instruments (banjo, tenor ukulele, guitar, violin) and other exotica (harmonium, hammered dulcimer, music box, flute, kalimba). It’s folk music that runs through your veins ice cold, but in a way that’s so compelling and irresistible you can’t help be moved by it. Shanti’s voice rises above sparse instrumental backing like a cool fog, and while the pair has earned comparisons to acts like Pentangle and Alela Diane, Arborea are utterly unique and entirely captivating.

The Currans are currently in Austin for a couple of shows during SXSW and then will be traveling around the East Coast in late March/early April. You can find dates here. So far, there’s no West Coast tour planned yet, but keep checking their website and Facebook page for updates. For now, here’s the video for our featured song “A Little Time”: - KEXP Seattle

"All Music Guide - Arborea 'Fortress of the Sun'"

AMG review 4 Stars, by Thom Jurek

The first thing a listener encounters on Arborea's Fortress of the Sun is the clarity of its sounds, all introduced separately and pristinely. On opener "Pale Horse," they slip from the silence to the center of a mix that wraps itself aroundShanti Curran's nearly gossamer alto with requisite warmth and space. Buck Curran's electric slide and acoustic guitars, and his backing vocals, color Shanti’s airborne shimmer while Anders Griffin's spectral drumming roots it in the earth. While there is no question that Arborea's music is psychedelic folk, it offers none of the amateurish playing or songwriting that the genre distinction sometimes bears in the 21st century. These songs are composed with precise melodic ideas and produced with great care. There is a series of loosely knit themes at work here as well, centering on notions of travel -- across land, through history -- with the recurring image of a horse as the being that ties together earthly and spiritual dimensions. It’s the combination of musics woven so purposefully that sets Arborea apart from many of their peers. They use the frames of many roots traditions in a thoroughly modern context, from British, Celtic, and American folk music to country to neo-psych to near-Gothic (à la This Mortal Coil), yet strip out anything and everything that doesn’t suit their aesthetic, which, in sum, seems to be the sound of twilight itself. "Daughters of Man" uses a repetitive, hypnotic, droning strain of Appalachian folk music (the same way Bob Dylan did à la "Ballad of Hollis Brown") via Shanti's acoustic guitar and nocturnal, otherworldly singing that moves the tune over a border and closer toPentangle, especially given the interplay of Buck's electric and e-bow guitars. The juxtaposition of these textures moves it into its own realm. Shanti's use of a muted, treated banjo and harmonium on "Ghost" surrounds her whispered lead vocals and seemingly wordless backing-vocal tapestry to create a blur of atmospheric richness and elegant spirit music: "I sigh and pull the veil and leave this place again/Divide the world/ Divide the world and see you fade into the mist…." On "Rider," the very next track, Buck's baritone intones through a mercurial folk blues, highlighted by Shanti's celestial backing vocal. On "When I Was on Horseback," Buck's modern guitars are tilted back in time by Shanti's hammered dulcimer. Here, Shirley & Dolly Collins, Pentangle, Davy Graham, and Martin & Jessica Ruby Simpson, breeze through one another as Arborea extends the reach and influence of each into the new century. Closer "Cherry Tree Carol" is a traditional number, thoroughly revisioned through the Curran's multivalent, gauzily textured gaze, as e-bow, banjo, acoustic guitars, and hammered dulcimer are answered by a droning viola from the ether. Fortress of the Sun, Arborea's debut on the revitalized ESP-Disk, brings all of the elemental gifts that graced their four previous albums in a dark, poetic, and glorious, whole. - All Music Guide/Rovi

"Textura - Long May They Run"

Arriving in the wake of two acclaimed full-lengths and a singles collection (House of Sticks), Arborea's fourth platter, Red Planet, captures the group—multi-instrumentalists Shanti and Buck Curran as always, with cellist Helena Espvall (of Espers) guesting—in perfect form. The Maine-based group's sound has matured and reached a stage of refinement without becoming overly polished, and there's still a raw quality to the material but a rawness that feels natural and honest. The album's a rich stylistic tapestry that includes instrumentals, incantations, covers, and folk-drones, with the Currans assembling the songs' arrangements using a rich array of string instruments (banjo, tenor ukulele, guitar, violin) and exotica (harmonium, hammered dulcimer, music box, flute, kalimba).

One could easily imagine the brief opening instrumental “The Fossil Sea” playing at the start of Paris, Texas in the absence of of Ry Cooder's justifiably celebrated music. Following that scene-setter, Arborea moves into deep drone-folk territory with an ethereal take on the traditional “Black is the Colour,” with Shanti's haunting voice hewing closely to the song's classic melodic line while Buck more freely contributes bluesy slide guitar shadings to enhance the hypnotic mood and a thick harmonium pedal point burns at the song's core. The later “Wolves” casts a similar spell though this time the vocals are accompanied by electric guitar and hammered dulcimer playing. Elsewhere, the lilting ballad “Spain” gets no small boost from the addition of Espvall's gorgeous playing, as does the equally stirring “Arms + Horses.” And don't be too quick to eject the CD when the album's final song, “A Little Time,” finishes or you'll miss the hidden track “Torchbearer.”

Though Shanti and Buck are both integral to Arborea's sound, it must be said that her singing is the group's not-so-secret weapon. Shanti's got one of those classic voices that effortlessly pierce the soul and go straight to the heart. One can hear, for example, how powerful her near-whisper is when it peels back the mournful layers of Tim Buckley's incantatory “Phantasmagoria in Two,” but, in truth, every vocal she contributes to the album proves to be as affecting. And though the slow-burning folk-drone of the title cut flirts with psych-folk, make no mistake: Arborea's music most assuredly isn't psych-folk but rather timeless folk music of the most unadulterated kind (sounding as if it could have been composed during the Civil War, Red Planet's “Careless Love” is merely one example of many), a music that extends a tradition that includes Steeleye Span, the Strawbs, and Fairport Convention and carries on today in the work of artists like Marissa Nadler and, of course, Arborea. If you count Sandy Denny singing “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” as one of your favourite things, you'll likely end up adding Arborea to that list too. Long may they run.

May 2011

Calling Arborea a folk duo does a gross disservice to the band; one should, perhaps, dispense with labels altogether, given how thoroughly the group's music transcends any one genre. So let's just say that Shanti and Buck Curran, the Maine-based husband-and-wife duo who make up Arborea, make mesmerizing music, full stop, even if strains of Appalachian folk music, English madrigals, blues, and psychedelic folk do occasionally surface within their songs. To date, the Currans have issued a number of splendid albums, a self-titled collection (issued on Fire Museum Records in 2008) and House of Sticks (on Borne Recordings in 2009) among them, and Buck recently oversaw the production of the superb tribute compilation We Are One, In The Sun: A Tribute To Robbie Basho. What distinguishes Arborea's sound most of all is both an emphasis on natural instrumentation (guitars, banjo, violin, and percussion) and Shanti's haunting singing, and more of both will no doubt be on display when Arborea's new album, Red Planet, is released on April 26th (in both LP and CD formats) on the Portland, Oregon-based label Strange Attractors Audio House. "Careless Love" (video below) certainly bodes well for the album; so too does the fact that Helena Espvall plays cello on the record, and covers of Tim Buckley's "Phantasmagoria in Two" and the traditional "Black is the Colour" also appear. We're delighted that Buck was able to find time to contribute a top 10 to this month's issue. - Textura

"NPR 'World Cafe: Next' - Entrancing Folk"

The husband and wife folk duo Arborea has been making music since 2005 and finally seem poised to break out. Shanti and Buck Curran live in the western mountains of Maine and are already names in psychedelic music circles. The recently released Red Planet, the band's fourth LP, will likely expand on that audience. - NPR 'World Cafe: Next'

"Guitar Player Magazine Editors' Top Three Picks December 2011 - Arborea 'Red Planet'"

Arborea 'Red Planet'
On this lovely outing Buck and Shanti Curran weave sparse, haunting tapestries with a cornucopia of acoustic instruments that includes guitars, banjos, tenor ukulele, harmonium, kalimba, violin, hammered dulcimer, and cello, accompanied by Shanti's wispy, ethereal vocals. Tapping American and British Isles folk with psychedelic and American Primitive touches and a 4AD production aesthetic, this disc is an avant folk wonder.
~Barry Cleveland/Guitar Player - Guitar Player Magazine

"All Music Guide - Arborea's 'Red Planet'"

Far removed from indie rock buzz bands, the folk duo Arborea have never seemed in a rush, but their fourth album, Red Planet, finds them more patient than ever, building music around their own slowly churning clockworks. Self-recording and self-producing again, largely in a cabin on a lake in Maine, Shanti and Buck Curran continue to expand their palette in subtly assertive ways. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, Red Planet is not only the longest Arborea outing yet, but -- in quiet ways -- also possesses the largest scope. The nine-and-a-half-minute "Wolves" gives the band its most sustained canvas yet, Shanti's voice doubled gently over frequent guest Helena Espvall's now familiar cello and Buck's pedal tones. The long tracks, and further use of Shanti's harmonium -- introduced on 2008's House of Sticks -- make for more slowly unfolding pieces than ever. More than ever, though, Shanti's vocals find their sources in traditional motifs and melodies, making for Arborea's most attractive batch of songs yet. "Black Is the Colour" builds on the familiar Celtic folk song, while "Careless Love" attaches itself with ghostly allusion to the blues song first recorded by Lonnie Johnson. Their cover of Tim Buckley's "Phantasmagoria in Two" finds a static peace until dramatically relieved by short electric guitar phrases and a buried tapestry of fine stringwork from Buck. "Spain," meanwhile, presents something more earthbound, of verses and refrains, though no less elegant.
~ Jesse Jarnow/All Music Guide 4 Stars - All Music Guide

"NY Times - SXSW "A Fanbase Without Borders""

But for a regular SXSW-goer like me, the purpose of the festival is to hear new music. Or at least music that’s new to me. A New Yorker could be rightly jaded by many of the baby bands that played SXSW this year. If they weren’t from Brooklyn — which was exhaustively represented by acts like Santigold — then many had played the CMJ Music Marathon in October, lineup that suggested surprisingly little change in six months. There were also many mid-career bands like Blitzen Trapper and Built to Spill: worthwhile groups that already have extensive catalogs but were still playing multiple SXSW gigs, trying not to be taken for granted. Still, there were more than enough worthwhile discoveries amid the SXSW din.

Among them were two very different bands drawing on Celtic folk tradition. Arborea, a duo from Maine, treated its own songs and traditional staples — “Careless Love,” “Black Is the Color” — as meditations, with whispery vocals and hints of Eastern modality. It used a different pair of instruments for each song — guitars, banjo, harmonium, ukulele — to create sparse, eerie folk mantras. Daughter, led by Elena Tonra, floated her melancholy voice and death-haunted lyrics in arrangements that surrounded her like turbulent weather: gusty cymbals, clouds of electric-guitar reverb.

~ Jon Pareles - NY Times

"Mojo Magazine - 'Deep, Powerful Songs'"

Buck and Shanti Curran's fifth LP of spellbinding psych folk feels both stronger and frailer than 2011 Red Planet, the golden production highlighting the fever-storms and dark sadness in these deep, powerful songs. 4 Stars
~Andrew Male Mojo Magazine - Mojo Magazine

"All About Jazz - Arborea: Fortress of the Sun"

By GLENN ASTARITA, Published: August 24, 2013

This duo from Maine casts a post-psychedelic, homespun folk vibe with a few subtle twists, signaling a nouveau spin on bands such as '70s British folk denizen Pentangle, and a classic Haight-Ashbury trippy street fair. Featuring sustainable and impressive compositions, Shanti Curran's virtuous vocals impart a spell of transcendental wonderment, sprinkled with dreamy atmospherics.

This acoustic-electric set is devised with hauntingly melodic themes that sometimes drift into an interminable abyss. The creative touch of studio-induced echo adds capacious characteristics to the program amid some offbeat treatments, contrasting the mystical aura often underscored with Americana and hush-toned spoken word segments. Shanti Curran and her husband Buck employ banjo, guitars, harmonium and even an Ebow banjo into the mix, and the album is indicative of the ESP Disk label's occasional detour off the free-jazz realm, spanning its inception as a renegade entity for over fifty years.

"Daughters of Man" is a counterbalancing act, consisting of Shanti Curran's wordless vocals and gently strumming acoustic guitar work, offset by Buck Curran's psyched-out, streaming electric guitar lines. The artists generate a broad plane here and on other tracks, where notions of surrealistic folk come into play. However, "When I Was on Horseback" is a piece that subtly morphs English folk with American country-folk and a wistful hook, tinted with searching attributes. Here, images of rural greenery via undulating hills are evoked, with Shanti Curran shaping an ode to a stallion that will also carry her coffin, as the lyrics disclose.

Modest by design, it's an enchanting event that propagates a heavenly muse, while offering escapism for the restless mind. - All About Jazz

"Folk Radio UK - Arborea's 'Fortress of the Sun'"

Shanti and Buck Curran are a multi-instrumental psychedelic folk duo based in Maine who draw inspiration from sources such as wind and water & poets and trees. Elusive yet intimate, quietly confident and close to the soil, their previous records have received praise from the Rolling Stone, BBC and of course Folk Radio UK. The couple’s upcoming album Fortress of the Sun is all set to continue the journey and sounds like an Indian summer with a hunch of apocalypse.

The songs thrive on Buck’s versatile guitar melodies and Shanti’s ethereal vocals telling nature’s half-stories, glimpses of what has been and what may be . “Pale Horse Phantasm” is a comfortingly wuthering tune for spooky walks on cliffs, where you may well find yourself in want of a line such as “freedom fevers my skin” to describe the sense of exhilarating fear. In “Ghost”, the album uproots itself with a whispered banjo-led solo by Shanti. A similar turning point is Buck’s instrumental “Rue das Aldas” with a flute and acoustic guitars.

The album alternates between movements and moments. With exceedingly beautiful “oohs” and an upright bass, “Daughters of Man” advises its addressees to gather their seeds and take action. “After the Flood only Love Remains” conjures biblical imagery as its determined guitar progression drives home the insight that “Time is a war we cannot wage”.

In contrast, “When I Was on Horseback” turns to one specific person. Offering only the moment before his fall and a scene at his burial, it is a country ballad in glimpses which leaves plenty of room for the listener to construct their own story. Until they notice the footnote, according to which, Buck Curran based the lyrics on the civil war cavalry commander J. E. B. Stuart. An ironic portrayal then?

Another moment Arborea describe is Joseph’s initial reaction to Mary’s immaculate conception. And how cherry trees come into it. “Cherry Tree Carol” is a traditional with a long line of covers by the likes of Pentangle, Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris. None of which feel quite as eery and the-great-outdoors-y as Arborea’s version.

These attributes also hold true for the couple’s photographs, which accompany the lyrics in the booklet. The photographs of ruffled seasides, sunlit ruins and ghostly reflections heighten the album’s sense of nature slowly but inevitably overtaking us. A sense of vastness and space, reminding the listener to pay their respects. And, perhaps, plant a tree, as the credits encourage.

Review by: Anne Malewski - Folk Radio UK

"Guitar Player Magazine - How to Mess with Convention: Buck Curran on Arborea's Avant-Folk Aesthetics"

“Shanti and I were married for seven years before she sang in front of me,” says Curran, “but after I gave her a banjo for her birthday in 2005, she opened up. We isolated ourselves amidst the rugged natural beauty of coastal Maine, and focused inwardly, honing our musical craft through extended improvisation.

“Besides singing, Shanti provides the rhythmic backbone of our live performances, playing guitar, banjo, ukulele, and banjimer— a hybrid banjo dulcimer. This gives me the freedom to float over the top, create space, and manipulate time. Shanti’s singing is the primary influence on my playing, and I’m always attempting to conjure beautiful vocal-like sounds from the guitar, relying on finger vibrato, wide and microtonal bends, and sometimes a slide to get sustain. When playing slide, I don’t dampen the strings, so there’s a complex mix of overtones in the sound.

“I also use an Ebow to get sustain—often combining it with slide. However, using an Ebow on a Stratocaster in DADGAD tuning with three Texas Special pickups can be like riding a wild horse, because the strong magnets can affect the Ebow’s dynamic response in unpredictable ways. I take full advantage of the Strat’s three pickups, the 5-way switch, and the volume and tone controls, constantly changing settings to create different tones and textures. I also vary my picking attack and hand positioning a lot—whether using a flat pick or my fingers and nails. I play through a Vox Cambridge 15 amp, and also use an old Pro Co Rat and a Line 6 Verbzilla pedal.

“My acoustic is a ‘Butterfly’ guitar with a red spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides that I built in 2006. It was inspired by the Stefan Sobell Model 1 prototype that Martin Simpson was playing when I used to take lessons from him, and which he dubbed the Butterfly because of its unique shape. I eventually bought that very Sobell guitar in 2006, and used it on our debut album.

“Martin was also a catalyst for my use of alternate tunings. The low, open tunings we use on guitar, banjo, and the other instruments resonate and ring with overtones, which helps us create the surreal atmospheres that form the foundations of our songs. In those tunings the way the notes interact triggers counterpoint melodies and other musical ideas—especially when Shanti is playing chords, because she fingerpicks individual notes rather than strumming, which also has a big influence on our sound.”

Arborea creates hauntingly ethereal psychedelic folk music, but with infusions of electric guitar that sometimes approach rock intensity. The music evokes shades of traditional American, British Isles, and European folk idioms, while simultaneously transcending them, as exemplified on their latest album, Fortress of the Sun [ESP-Disk].
~ Barry Cleveland, GP 2013

- See more at: - Guitar Player Magazine

"Bob Boilen's (NPR) Favorite Concerts of 2012"

Arborea listed among Bob Boilen's NPR list of recommended acts and favorite concerts of 2012. - NPR, Producer Robin Hilton

"Woman of Indie - Arborea 'Red Planet' Review"

There is an inherent mourning in the fabric of this album, like old Celtic tunes full of the famous abiding sense of tragedy that the Irish are said to have carried for ages. Sometimes it’s right there on the sheet, written out in detail. But lyrical content aside, Red Planet is simply swelling with a sorrowful ambiance.

While there are strong folk roots nourishing Arborea’s core, these are not folk songs. This project is more experimental in nature, adhering to dominantly acoustic instrumentation and bare arrangements; and while those words together typically describe a folk album, Red Planet’s pieces often sway in and out of a few repeated measures, utilizing only a handful of chords. The rhythm for each piece is organic and open, and chords are plucked string by string at a knowing pace, allowing the listener to linger upon the reverberations and anticipate the dramatic silence between notes. In limiting the range of instrumentation, Arborea has made the subtle shifts noticeable and significant when they do occur, while the steady repetition of the verse-into-verse structure becomes meditative once you realize there will be no transitions, no distinctive separation of chorus, no typical form.

Although rich in texture, the instrumentation leans heavily on the vocal musings of Shanti Curran. Luckily, she is armed with a defining voice, strong enough to rival many of the best female leads of our time. Her haunted lilt is strengthened by the depth of her writing, which glows in dark places. Shanti has pure poetry in her style, tapping into mystery and woe with an adept hand. Often revolving around natural elements, the writing is timeless and poignant, even when bordering on melodramatic. It is a quiet but forceful experience to hear Arborea, much like a change of weather. Fluid and contemplative, their music is driven by the drama of nature to the point of being foreboding.

Half of the songs on Red Planet clock in at over five minutes, a couple stretching out toward the ten-minute mark. These longer pieces have a strong cinematic quality, allowing time for the covert impact to sink in. For the most part, this works beautifully for Arborea. Admittedly, there were moments midway through when I lost touch and checked out, but only briefly. In fact, listening back, I sometimes believe that to be an important part of the listening experience… once you find the point that pulls you back in, you feel like you’ve been dreaming. Timing is huge with an album like this, and “Arms and Horses” is a definite highlight in this respect: picturesque and heart-breaking in its six minute span. Any longer would feel forced. Any shorter would feel unnatural, un-fulfilling. The end-result is just about perfect, and devastating.

With media attention and tour dates on Arborea’s schedule, one might worry that such a studied sound cannot translate into a successful live show. The careful measures taken to build the right instrumentation and level of control that a studio album provides are very elusive out on the road, giving reason for skepticism. Music videos, however, just make way too much sense. I was not at all surprised to see a few official videos already in place, and yes, it definitely works.

This album is cinematic, artistic, and deeply rooted in poetic forms, an important piece of work through and through. It’s one for a long drive, where you can give it the undivided attention it deserves. Look for this album, seek it out. Groups like this are rare, and Red Planet is a treasure.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars - Indie Music Reviewer

"Pitchfork review of the Arborea created Various Artists: We Are All One, In The Sun: A Tribute to Robbie Basho"

American Primitive guitarist Robbie "Basho" Robinson, one of the original pillars of John Fahey's legendary Takoma label, has a small but uncommonly devoted following among fellow musicians. Even so, the scope and virtuosity of his intuitive style makes him seem an especially tricky subject for a tribute album. Curated by Buck Curran of the folk duo Arborea, We Are All One, in the Sun does an impressive job of capturing the breadth of Basho's work, and it does so by concentrating as much on his eccentric songwriting and general beatific spirit as it does on his guitar skills.

In a wayward career that extended from his 1965 Takoma debut The Seal of the Blue Lotus to his untimely death in 1986, Robbie Basho specialized in the sort of cross-cultural stylistic leaps that are easy to take for granted in the Internet age but which must have sounded totally alien in 1965. In his playing he regularly referenced flamenco, Indian ragas, Celtic folk, and a wide variety of Asian and Native American styles with an almost invisibly deft touch. It seems appropriate, then, that for this tribute Curran has gathered musicians from around the globe, including several vocal tracks and a pair of non-guitar instrumentals that help to better illustrate the reach of Basho's influence. The pieces are a mix of direct covers of Basho originals and more impressionistic tribute songs that do their best to evoke and/or approximate Basho's enigmatic style.

Of course, the surest way to pay homage to a virtuoso guitarist is to enlist some virtuoso guitarists. No Basho tribute album could feel quite legit without an appearance from German guitarist Steffen Basho-Junghans, whose enthusiasm for Basho's work prompted him to add Basho to his own name as a sort of creative talisman. We Are All One is bookended by a pair of 12-string guitar pieces by Basho-Junghans, the first recorded in 1992 and the second in 2008. These pieces are not only fascinating re-interpretations of Basho's work but also provide a window onto the gradual progression of Junghan's own unique style. Similarly, pieces by guitarists Glenn Jones and Cian Nugent showcase artists who are not content to be mere copyists, as they instead craft new variations using Basho's wayfaring creativity as a guide.

Lovely though these pieces are, contributions from cellist Helena Espvall and Persian oud master Rahim Alhaj really serve to distinguish this album from any number of recent excellent acoustic guitar records. Throughout Basho's work, there seems a frequent undercurrent of loneliness or melancholy that has led many to describe his music as "haunting", and Espvall's lightly dissonant cello piece "Travessa Do Cabral" masterfully evokes this same impression. And while it is unclear whether the Iraqi-born Alhaj's piece "Baghad Athania" is directly inspired by Basho, it does reflect Basho's fondness for Middle Eastern forms and adds a welcome variation to the album's timbre.

Basho's own idiosyncratic vocals have never been universally beloved, even amongst his devoted fanbase. His voice could rise to an eerie wail that can seem remarkably startling and unearthly, especially at those points when his guitar has lulled the listener into a meditative daze. So it is probably for the best that the three vocal pieces here, all sung by female vocalists, are all performed with a notable degree of restraint, with nobody trying to duplicate Basho's style too precisely.

"Moving Up A'Ways", Basho's typically eccentric variation on an old Navajo prayer, proves a perfect fit for Espers' Meg Baird, who delivers a captivating, understated performance. Buck Curran's own duo Arborea does similar good work on "Blue Crystal Fire", buoyed by Shanti Curran's suitably crystalline vocals, and Fern Knight make a good match for Basho's strange epic "Song for the Queen", providing what I believe is the album's sole electric instrumentation. Each piece on the album echoes a slightly different aspect of Basho's work, and this subtle level of variation helps make We Are All One, in the Sun that rare tribute album that is a solid listen from start to finish, and also serves to whet the appetite for further immersion into Robbie Basho's incredibly rich back catalog.

Matthew Murphy June 29, 2010 7.8 - Pitchfork

"Rolling Stone 'Best Under-the-Radar Albums of 2011'"

When it comes to best-of-the-year album lists, there are the polls of authority, like the survey just published by this magazine – and there is everything that hit my Victrola and stuck around, from under the radar and beyond the insitutional consensus. This is some of the best of what happened to me on records in 2011.

Arborea – Red Planet (Strange Attractors)
This husband-and-wife duo plays a trance-folk that, at every turn in the slipstream, seems to hail from another country: the murder ballads of Appalachia; the plucked-string stasis and Om drone of New York minimalism; the iridescent-Middle East imagination of the Incredible String Band. Singer Shanti and guitarist Buck Curran take Tim Buckley's "Phantasmagoria in Two" at a compelling near-standstill pace; their own "Wolves" is a long circular hush streaked with crying fuzz. Another primary instrument here: the soft oceans of reverb that cushion every minute of this stark and tender balladry.

~David Fricke/Rolling Stone

Read more:

- Rolling Stone

"FOXY DIGITALIS Review by Matt Blackall"

Arborea is a Maine-based husband and wife duo that creates earthy, spirited music with a hearty nod toward folk music of the past. Really, their music is a strong mix of old-world and American folk traditions, with a smattering of other elements, both modern and antique. For their sophomore album, Buck and Shanti Curran incorporate vocals, guitars, banjo, violin, and percussion into their beautiful works. Their previous album was called "Wayfaring Summer," but this self-titled effort seems to evoke the fall season with its deep, brooding music and melancholy sound. With only 500 copies pressed, you should make sure you get your hands on this quickly, before the opportunity passes.

One of the most striking aspects of the duo is Shanti Curran's clear, powerful voice, which anchors most of the songs. It's direct, but never overbearing as it balances with the rest of the instruments. On the opener, "Forwarned," her multi-tracked vocals intertwine with spare percussion and electric guitar to set a dark, moody precedent for the album. Another excellent track is the hazy, bluesy song "Seadrift." The light guitar and simple, subdued vocals evoke ancient blues recordings. Still, Arborea keeps things fresh and unpredictable with a small touch of violin. Throughout the entire album, there are moments like this, where a song is seemingly one thing, but quickly becomes another in the blink of an eye. The instrumental tracks on the album prove themselves no less powerful. One example, "Leaves Among the Ruins," is a simple, meditative acoustic guitar track, but has the same strong impact as the more fully arranged pieces.

This album by Arborea definitely grows better as it becomes more familiar. There's a lot going on, but much of it is quite subtle, so you might not hear it all right away. Do yourself a favor and give yourself ample time with this album to hear everything there is to hear. The Currans put some amazing ideas to tape and its well worth the effort to get to know their music. 8/10 -- Matt Blackall (13 August, 2008) - Foxy Digitalis

"POP MATTERS 'House of Sticks' Review"

Anyone concerned with the perceived indulgence of the contemporary exploratory folk community should find comfort and relief with the music of Arborea. On House of Sticks, the Maine husband/wife duo of Buck and Shanti Curran create elemental soundscapes that ignore fashion and strive for natural beauty. The arrangements generally focus on a handful of acoustic textures that weave and interlock beneath Shanti’s amber vocals. The opener “River and Rapids” builds from an odd-metered banjo figure to include hand-claps and buzzing strings. “Beirut”, inspired in part by the film “Paradise Now”, culminates in a layering of guitar parts that feels considered and purposeful rather than superfluous. The effect of listening to House of Sticks is that of time slowing down, the distractions of everyday life melting away, where each sound feels important in the mix. Of particular note are the atypically structured “Look Down Fair Moon”, the slinky Eastern-jazz of “Alligator”, and the ethereal vocals and cicada-like drones of “In the Tall Grass”, which closes the album as gently and mysteriously as twilight. - Pop Matters/Michael Metivier

"NPR Second Stage Arborea Feature", September 9, 2008
Shanti and Buck Curran, who write and record under the name Arborea, are pitched as a husband-and-wife folk duo from Maine, but there's very little in their songs that resembles traditional roots music. Arborea's self-titled CD reflects the sepia-toned landscapes and creaky acoustic instrumentation of backwoods Americana, and the minor-key narratives tell sinister tales in the spirit of English murder ballads. But Arborea is mostly an experimental album, with the Currans bowing and plucking their stringed instruments to create spacey, ambient drones more than standard chord progressions.

Most of the music on Arborea consists of first-take improvisations, which accounts for the album's amorphous structure. It's not that it's an indistinct mush of sound: Each song has a clear beginning and end. But the soundscapes tend to drift quietly into frameless, psychedelic territory, with only Shanti Curran's hypnotically beautiful voice anchoring the mix.

The instrumentation is an incredibly bare-bones mix of banjo, various guitars, violins and cello. There's virtually no percussion to speak of, except for the occasional frame drum or distant bells. The result is chilling at times, with Arborea using the empty spaces and silence as much as notes to create a remote and eerie world.

"Red Bird" is Arborea's most accessible and traditional track (it'd fit well on any Gillian Welch CD), while "Black Mountain Road" is one of its more experimental. The song begins with Shanti Curran's voice backmasked against a reversed banjo line. Played backwards, she sings, "Follow me where the north wind goes to the end of Black Mountain Road." It's a line repeated throughout the song, before building to a swarm of fluttering strings.

Arborea is a bit melodramatic at times (the recurring rain stick could have been left out of the mix), and the spareness can leave listeners wanting something meatier. But overall, Shanti and Buck Curran get it right, with memorable songs that linger in the ether long after the last track ends.
~Robin Hilton, Producer NPR - NPR, Producer Robin Hilton

"BBC Review - They construct a fragile, resonant world..."

BBC 10 June 2009

Arborea, who hail from the state of Maine, aren't strictly speaking folk, country, or ambient but during the 32 minutes of their third album, the record drifts smokily somewhere between them all. Husband and wife team, Buck and Shanti Curran, construct a fragile, resonant world with a lingering Americana after-taste, shimmering with the same wide-open spaces Ry Cooder's captured so well on Paris, Texas.

Sounding like frayed, half-remembered, hand-me-down tunes, shaped and altered with each retelling, the fluidity and the sparse application of instruments wherein Eastern and Western modes gently mingle is the secret of this album's startling beauty.

Like other artists operating from the USA's east-coast indie folk scene (Espers, Fern Knight, ex reverie, etc), the music also involves an affectionate backward glance to late 60s/early 70s UK folk rock, itself cross-pollinated by the USA's psychedelic scene.

Whilst it's true that what goes around so often comes around, Arborea's take on all of the above is imbued with its very own distinctive brand of delicate, beguiling minimalism.

Plucked banjo notes on Look Down Fair Moon possesses a koto-like solemnity whilst a hymnal harmonium spreads out radiant lines of melody, slowly unfurling like the sun at the start of a summer's day on In The Tall Grass.

Sometimes Shanti's voice is little more than a frightened murmur, prompting comparisons to Vashti Bunyon, though not everything here is translucent or ephemeral.

A wry sensuality insinuates itself throughout Alligators, and for all her delicacy, Shanti's stylised articulation also carries an unexpected insistence instilled with an underlying menace on Beirut and the hypnotic Dance, Sing, Fight.

Here, her near-whispered reportage takes on an unsettling air, seeping through an intricate web of dulcimer and luminous slide guitar.
~Sid Smith - BBC Sid Smith

"Boston Globe - Arborea: A Magical Mystery Tour"

A magical mystery tour

June 10, 2008


Arborea (Fire Museum)

ESSENTIAL "Echo of Hooves"

The second album from this northern Maine acid-folk duo floats like a daydream in and out of song and form. Ideas are tacked together with loose improvisations, ringing notes, and lush strums echoing as they drift through spare atmospheres. Words are sung when the mood allows, riffs and phrases played until they no longer amuse. But unlike most albums that double as aural wallpaper, we're sucked in, along for Arborea's ethereal ride through a psych-holler reshuffling of Appalachian and British folk music. On "Dark Is the Night (in the Wind)," a banjo kicks out a rhythm emulating the clop-clop of horses, while "Red Bird" tracks like the title song of a melancholy movie. Though Shanti Curran's violin and vocal hosannas are often more tone fragments than melodies, they have a synergy with Buck Curran's guitar and flute, leaping and sliding in concert with his plucked resonances and diving overtones. Arborea can be too precious; it's usually a warning sign when musicians list the details of their wholly ordinary-sounding "custom" instruments. But overall Arborea turns its pretenses into alluring mystery. [Tristram Lozaw]

Arborea plays at the Red Door in Portsmouth, N.H. (603-373-6827,, next Monday - Boston Globe, June 10, 2008


Take a handful of politically sharp lyrics, hone them on a pedal-driven sharpening block in the lea of the old tumbledown barn until the point shines through, set them to melodies so intimate they sound like firelight whispers and moody, atmospheric instrumentation that soothes like a bubblebath and the result is Arborea. This ethereal duo of Buck Curran (who majors on guitars, bowed strings and vocals) and Shanti Curran (vocals, banjo and percussion) hail from Maine, USA and musically hail from a similar gene-pool to Marissa Nadler, especially, and the Appalachian folk musings of the Spectral Light & Moonshine Snakeoil Jamboree (or indeed any one of the several outfits the godfather of psych-holler folk, Timothy Renner, cares to adorn). There’s also a touch of classic British folksong bubbling through like blobs of methane emerging from a witchy well: ‘Beirut’ for example is pure Vashti Bunyan, at once heartbreaking and visceral. The title song ‘Wayfaring Summer’ is an instrumental tour de force of beautifully paced acoustic guitar with a banjo hovering around and through the melody like a moth drawn to a light. ‘River and Rapids’ could easily be a Charalambides outtake, psychedelic acid-folk peddling shadows, shades of meaning and feeling others could never express in words let alone a web of stateley electric music, while ‘Alligator’ finds Shanti murmuring seductively, implying and evading with a coiling, smoky vagueness, and ‘Dance, Sing, Fight’ finds the couple evoking sublime hallucinations in both vocal and instrumental splashes of lightness and shade.

Two-thirty am and I feel like going for a walk amongst the trees. So that’s why they’re called Arborea. Magic you can visit, again and again. (Phil McMullen)

"DIRTY LINEN MAGAZINE/Feature article - New Psych Folk Part 2/with Iron and Wine/Rio en Medio"

Combining the common emotional thread running through ancient British murder ballads and the more evocative music found deep in the Appalachian Mountains, Maine folk duo Arborea creates timeless music, haunted by deep shadows. Named after a species of trees, Arborea comprises Buck Curran on acoustic, slide, and electric guitars, flutes, banjo, and vocals, along with Shanti Curran, who sings lead and plays banjo, percussion, guitar, bowed strings, and ukulele. Their songs are bathed in shimmering harmonics, spectral slide, and positively spooky banjo. The songs also evoke a kind of mysterious quality, in which you are never quite sure what the songs are about, but they seem to touch a place in your soul that instinctively understands. - Lahri Bond


When I reviewed Arborea's first LP - Wayfaring Summer - I uttered the word "masterpiece". It was a big claim. However, it was a big claim that was completely justified. So, here I sit with their second long player - an eponymous cut - and I'm pleased to say that this is a band that gets better with each release.

Normally, a band has to find their feet before really hitting stride, however, Arborea aren't your average group. Like The Band, which they share a certain woody charm with, this is a band that has landed fully formed. Where The Band did the Rag Mama Rag, Buck and Shanti Curran make beautiful, timeless albums that seem to almost make time freeze like the winter stopping streams. And if you think that's flowery, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. This is a band that demands you get your poetic hat on.

If the first album had something of Pagan sexuality about it, then this album continues in the same way, only this time, with the help of the sirens. 'Arborea', slowly fades in with a cinematic peer through the mist with the creepy Forwarned before melting into the breathtaking Red Bird. If Forwarned was the opening credits, then the opening dialogue of Red Bird really sets the tone. With some cello help from Helena Espvall of psychedelic folkies The Espers, the earthy strings, coupled with the rootsy pickings of the Currans, are a marriage made in heaven.

Many folk LPs are intent of doing little more than listening to Nick Drake albums. Of course, very few match their influence. However, Arborea seem to drag influences from every corner and twist and forge them into their own unique shapes. There's drones, the ghost of Smithsonian Folkways field recordings, Celtic music, murder balladry, psychedelic backward guitar, even the leafy weirdness of Goldfrapp's 'Felt Mountain' can be heard in some of Shanti's delivery.

If you think that folk music, which this undoubtedly is, is a lesson in real ales and cardigans, you couldn't be more wrong. Arborea are a band that, on record at least, aren't afraid to get naked and draw blood. There's a toughness in their sound that says 'don't mess'. This isn't a band that will fist-fight you in the street, but rather, cast a spell that will leave you in the forest - lost. I'd like to say that they are in fact in league with a band of demonic witches who will cast a wicked spell on you if you don't buy this album as it's that good. However, amongst the sinister magick is some truly wonderful, sensual, hip-shaking twang.

If this album was released on some obscure label in the early seventies, you'd be stumping up £300 for it. Black Mountain Road has a timeless quality... it could be a Joe Boyd production... it could be found on a discarded reel-to-reel in the middle of some remote outpost of the Hebrides... it's a staggering track. There's something of the Watersons about this record. There's something of Pentangle. I can't rate this highly enough! In short, you can't live without this album. It's the way albums are supposed to be - exciting, beguiling, enchanting, intriguing - quite simply, it's superb and needs a place in your home now. - Electric Roulette


*2013 'Fortress of the Sun' released on ESP-Disk'

*2011 'Red Planet' released on Strange Attractors Audio House

*2010 (May) 'We Are All One, In The Sun': A Tribute to Robbie Basho on Important Records

*2009 (October) 'House of Sticks' (Remastered) Worldwide digital release only

*2009 Beautiful Star: The Songs of Odetta. (30 Nov) Benefit compilation cd curated by the UK magazine 'Wears the Trousers.

*2009 - 'Leaves of Life', World Food Program benefit compilation cd curated by Arborea released on Borne! Records. (23 June)

*2009 (March) 'House of Sticks' released on Borne!/Acuarela Records. U.S. Distribution through Darla Records. Distribution throughout the World

*2008 (April) self-titled album 'Arborea' released on Fire Museum Records/national distribution through Forced Exposure.

*2008 (June) Digital version of Arborea's self-titled released. Available through Apple iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.

*2007 (October) Digital version of Wayfaring Summer released. Available through Apple iTunes, Rhapsody.

*2007 TEA-1 Compilation Cd,Terrascope Online (UK)

*2006 (October) 'Wayfaring Summer' released on Summer Street Records

Red Planet -
Rolling Stone 'Best Under-the-Radar Albums of 2011'

December 2011 'Editors Top Pick' - Guitar Player Magazine

Uncut Editor John Mulvey 100 Top albums of 2011

December 2011 No. 3 in textura's Top 20 albums of 2011

September 2011 'Top Vinyl Pick' - Mojo Magazine

August 1st, 2011 KEXP 'Song of the Day'

May 2nd, 2011 'World Cafe: Next': NPR

August 2012 Philadelphia Folk Festival

May 2012 NPR Tiny Desk Concert

March 2012 SXSW Austin, Texas

February 27th, 2011 WXPN/Philadelphia session with Gene Shay

Dream Magazine Issue No. 8/2008 Interview and companion compilation cd.

*2009 Darla Records Compilation, 'Little Darla Has a Treat For You', v.27: Eternal Spring Edition compilation. Arborea song - Shadow and the Wind

*'Wayfaring Summer' released on Summer Street Records October 2006

Live session and interview on the BBC 'World on 3' program. 5 June 2009

Live set on WFMU/Irene Trudel's show 28 May 2007 archived on

Various songs from Wayfaring Summer played and archived on WFMU throughout 2007 and 2008

Live Session/Interview on Spinning on Air/WNYC January 2008

Live Session/Interview re-aired on Spinning On Air/WNYC November 2008

September 2008 Arborea feature on NPR

Airplay on NPR, BBC, KPFA Berkeley, Ca - KDVS Davis, CA 'Cool as Folk - WFMU Jersey City,NJ - WNYC NYC,NY 'Spinning On Air' - FM 99.3 Syndey, Australia 'Sideways Through Sound' - WMBR 88.1FM Boston,MA 'Pipeline' - WNEC 91.7 Henniker,NH "Seldom Heard Radio" - Main Public Broadcasting Network 'In Tune By Ten - Sunday' with Sara Willis



Since 2005, Maine based wife and husband Avant Folk duo Shanti and Buck Curran have released 5 albums, curated two various artist compilations ('Leaves of Life' and 'We Are All One, In the Sun': a tribute to Robbie Basho), and performed throughout the US, UK, and Europe...including sessions on the BBC, NPR, WNYC, and WXPN. Arborea's 4th album 'Red Planet' was released in 2011 and received critical praise; making Rolling Stone 'Best Under-the-Radar Albums of 2011'', 'Editors Top Pick' Guitar Player Magazine, 'Top Vinyl Pick' Mojo Magazine, Uncut Magazine 'Top 100 Albums of 2011', and Portland Phoenix 'Top Ten Albums of 2011'.  Arborea's 5th album 'Fortress of the Sun' was released April 29th, 2013 on Esp-Disk' coinciding with the label's 50th Anniversary and made AllMusic's 'Favorite Singer/Songwriter Albums of 2013', Acoustic Guitar Magazine's 'Best Acoustic Albums of 2013', textura's 'Top Ten Albums of 2013', and Best Of Echoes 2013 Listener Poll. NPR's Bob Boilen, Host of All Songs Considered, described their musicI discovered Arborea amid a sea of 1,300 songs that I heard in preparation for South by Southwest. The music stood out for its calm beauty, its rough edges, and the duo's ability to speak eloquently of life's precious moments, about the sea, and about wonder. I first heard the duo perform at St. David's Bethel Hall in Austin during this year's South by Southwest music festival. That gorgeous church was the best imaginable place to hear this music, short of a visit to the couple's cabin in the western mountains of Maine. It's always special to hear musicians play to the space they're in. The Currans are not only superb players, and Shanti Curran a lovely singer, but, as this Tiny Desk Concert indicates, they're equally good listeners always in tune with their surroundings."

Band Members