Coming off the back of a sold-out tour and an array of impressive support slots from the likes of Cat Power and Echo & The Bunnymen, Belfast born Mark McCambridge returns with Arborist’s greatly anticipated third album, An Endless Sequence of Dead Zeros.
Recorded in the depths of Richmond, Virginia, the immersive record is traditional yet experimental, creating a sense of homeliness that is tinged with psychedelic and Americana influences.
The albums opener ‘Dreaming in Another Language’ introduces us to this world of psychedelic-Americana perfectly. Capturing us with its spiralling guitar loop, the layers of buzzing synthesisers produce an abundance of vague and distorted sound that, along with the tracks sombre and soothing vocals, certainly makes for a “hypnotic trip of a song”.
‘Matisse’ offers a different listening experience entirely. The song is rather gospel like due to the beautiful collection of backing vocals and the sing-along chorus that speaks of the “disparity between the formation of an idea and its eventual final form”. Fuelled by quirky guitar melodies, it is a standout song on the album.
Speaking of standout performances, the folky ‘O Margaret’ has left a lasting impression on me as one of the greatest love songs written. Immediately, I felt great emotion from the tracks centre stage vocals and classical arrangement of strings. Finding out the song was written as an ode for McCambridge’s own mother only made it that much better.
The bluesy ‘Black Halo’ is a simple yet haunting song about how our bodies hold trauma. Elevated by a series of ooh and aahing backing vocals, the mystifying guitar solo in the middle is like a slap in the face whilst the distant and echoing ending is leisurely and still.
‘One Morning Mid November’ reminds me of the groovy shrilling folk sounds of Fleet Foxes as it encapsulates the feelings one may have in the autumns crisp golden air. The alternative country tone of ‘The Weeping Rot’ has similar groove with its repetitive vocal and instrumental melodic lines.
With its tranquil beginning, the pedal steel background in ‘Unkind’ creates the gothic atmospherics that exist through albums such as Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers. Compelling and poignant lyrics like “we could let them live with the shame, but that seems unkind” are a testament to this album’s sturdiness in terms of songwriting. The collection of horns brought together at the ending only reinforces this sentiment.
‘Dewdrop Cherryoak’ is a “Neill Young style lament” and the swinging Americana feel alongside the eerie sliding guitar create a melancholy mood. Graced by a woodwind section, it is as if there is nothing this album doesn’t offer.
The final song and final single ‘Alabaster Skin’ is a boundary pushing piano ballad written about the recent riots in Belfast. With essences of Tom Waits or Smith & Burrows, the dreamy strings and voice that demonstrates many new highs and lows flawlessly concludes the albums “dream state feel”. The track is simply a beautiful ending to this beautiful album.