Music that looks like fall, sounds like fall and is issued in fall, Arboretum is the perfect album for autumn. One would think this practice more common, but sadly only a few artists have chosen to summon their fall muse in 2018. Thankfully, Ross Baker (Enofa) is one of them.
Autumn is a season of change. The beaches close, the warmth recedes, the sun sinks earlier in the day. The squirrels scurry for nuts. The birds migrate overhead. The leaves begin to burst. We pull our jackets tight around us, catching a shiver in the evening air. We rediscover a love for pumpkin, squash, apples, corn, cinnamon donuts fresh from the fryer. My own quest this year: to find the best pumpkin beer: a search the knights of yore might have preferred. And what is my score? Arboretum. It’s fun to drive around the county, searching for fall flavors, enjoying the fall foliage, listening to fall music. This morning I’m cooking: pumpkin soup is in the crock pot, chicken with cranberries, walnuts and sweet potatoes in the oven. Again, I am accompanied by Enofa.
The album is constructed as a single, smoothly flowing track, a journey through the season that celebrates its most evocative sounds. The first sounds are birdsong, bees and footsteps on leaves, setting the stage for a gentle series of movements that imitate the nature of the new season: slow, inevitable, colorful change. In one segment, Baker’s plucks a beautiful melody on acoustic guitar; in another, synthesized notes rise through the scales, conveying a gentle urgency: find the nuts while they are scattered about. Various birds drop in to offer commentary. One imagines Baker strolling through the park and arboretum near his home, wondering how to translate each thatch, each color, each fallen leaf into song. Just as we grow accustomed to each phase, the music morphs into the next, stroll to harvest to holiday, less an elegy than a cheerful portent of what is to come. This angle is rare, even in autumn music; a greater proportion of artists view the season through the twin lenses of nostalgia and loss. When Baker begins to play piano, he’s anything but sad; the notes cascade like the shouts of children collecting leaves to press between the pages of books.
Completing the trifecta, Time Released Sound once again applies its usual handmade care. The limited edition (only a few left!) contains a photo folder, with “collaged, vintage arboreal prints, dried leaves, and other arboreal ephemera.” Even the regular editions vary from customer to customer. Everything looks like fall ~ some copies even smell like fall. It’s clear that the people who prepare these offerings do so with love.
Whether you already love autumn or wish you could love autumn, Arboretum has something to offer. This is the sound of human and nature entwined, an ode to the season of gold. (Richard Allen)