What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but “rose” is an appealing name, as is “humor”. The humors referred to in the title are the bodily fluids investigated by Hippocrates and Galenus, roughly analogous to the four elements and stages of life. For English-speaking readers, the titles obscure their origins; “Phlegm”, “Blood”, “Yellow Bile” and “Black Bile” are the translations. Would we normally choose to listen to an ambient album with those titles? Perhaps not ~ but we’d be missing something a lot more lovely than the words would indicate.
Arafúra has been dancing on the margins of our site for a while now, having appeared on the 2011 Hope for Japan compilation, as well as The Mountaineering Club Orchestra’s remix album. The good will produced by such contributions continues here. Humores I-IV is a sweet ode to life’s complete journey, from the insistent heartbeat of “Phlegma” to the autumn leafed piano of “Xanthè Cholè” to the seraph-toned, Sigur Rós strings of “Melaina Chole”. The horizontal path of life is succinctly scored here, although the vertical pole is not – the anguish and disappointment find little grip, crowded out by the hopes and dreams. This tactic is also used by the aforementioned Icelanders, as well as by Rhian Sheehan and a large portion of the Oxide Tones roster: it’s life-affirming music, meant to soothe and soar.
Hippocrates and Galenus were fascinated by the physical, but as much as the artist wishes to reflect their research in his music, it ends up being a better reflection of the spiritual world. It’s virtually impossible to hear the melodic cross-stitching of violin, viola and cello without feeling one’s heart tugged skyward. This simply means that Humores is a more uplifting project than its subject matter. Life rolls slowly down a lazy river, occasionally dipping a hand in the cool water, eventually coming to rest against a shaded bank. One closes the eyes, and leaves this life. This may not be the life we get or even yearn for, but it makes for a pleasant reverie, a glittering vision. (Richard Allen)