Kale is a special LP-only split release by Arbouretum and their Baltimore friends Pontiak, Thrill Jockey’s new signees making their label debut. The split features new songs from each band as well as a handful of John Cale covers, with Arbouretum offering their rendition of “Buffalo Ballet,” and Pontiak delivering a potent “The Endless Plain of Fortune” and a great new interpretation of “Mr. Wilson”. The album was recorded at Pontiak’s home studio in Warrenton, VA.
Pontiak is three brothers from the Blue Ridge farm country of Virginia. Van, Lain and Jennings Carney did not play music together until the three were older and moved to Baltimore from various points around the country. Their enthusiasm quickly turned to obsession and soon they were building their studio in the barn on their farm and moving back to focus entirely on recording and playing. They quietly released their debut record Valley of Cats distributing it themselves at shows. But it certainly got our attention, as did the undeniable follow up album Sun on Sun. The results, swaggering guitar rock, straddle the line between a power trio and something whose expansive results exceed the trio format. Their broad song structures allow ample room for Van’s amazing vocals and guitar work to stretch and captivate. Julian Cope described them as “straddling a wide sonic rift valley, with references that stretch from the southern latitudes of Spain’s Viaje A800 to the northern majesty of Black Sabbath and Harvey Milk via the Doors.”
Arbouretum hail from Baltimore and are led by Dave Heumann, who also plays with Nathan Bell of Lungfish in Human Bell. They use the basic structure of folk-affected rock songs to paint broad landscapes rich with literary allusions, loner ballads, fuzzy bass and acid drenched guitar solos. Arbouretum released their Thrill Jockey debut, Rites of Uncovering, in January 2007, and since have toured Europe and the States multiple times, including outings with Dead Meadow and Beach House. Human Bell released a debut full length earlier this year on Thrill Jockey before touring the US with Boredoms; Dave Heumann has also played with The Anomoanon, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Cass McCombs.
Arbouretum and Pontiak will tour together this fall in support of Kale. Pontiak’s Sun on Sun album will get a proper release in September and Arbouretum is currently working on new material for a follow-up album to Rites of Uncovering.