by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Anne of Austria

AroarA - "Crying Out For Me". AroarA formed last year, the partnership of two musicians I have long admired: Andrew Whiteman and Ariel Engle. Whiteman's work I knew best from recordings - for his work as Apostle of Hustle, and as a member of Broken Social Scene. Engle was more elusive - although she has past projects, no recordings ever came close to the heart-stopping/heart-starting effect of her live performances. One of the city's most admired singers, Engle has performed with everyone from Feist to Socalled, Jerusalem In My Heart to Martha Wainwright. She has that rare, rare singer's gift - the kind of voice that changes the gravity in a room, drawing everything toward her silhouette. Magnetic, bewitching, undeniable as a hot coal.

Engle and Whiteman are husband and wife. AroarA, therefore, is more than a band: it's something lovers are doing with their lives, together. From this, the group's music gains a seriousness, a sensuousness. AroarA's songs inherit part of their intimacy: these songs are the sum of a thousand touches, a million glances. Hearing AroarA's mingling voices, cigar-box guitars, I imagine the moments on the periphery: dusk drives, breakfast-table debates, midnights.

Which brings me to this first release, a self-titled EP, five songs from their In The Pines LP. It's called In The Pines because Alice Notley wrote a book of poetry called In The Pines, and AroarA's songs use Notley's poems as lyrics. The songs don't just borrow scraps of stanzas: I believe these are Notley's complete poems. Because of this, there's a certain formality to these songs - a "literariness", for lack of a better word, that can at first feel like a thin paper screen. There are big words, literary allusions; this is free verse, not pop-song rhyme.

That can be the first impression, but it fades. Especially now that AroarA have completely finished these songs, adding strings and brass to voice and beats and guitars, with mixing by Sandro Perri, these tunes are lush, not formal. They are direct, not mediated. Engle and Whiteman are staring at us, at each other, as they sing. Yes, In The Pines has a concept. But this music is hot and intimate. AroarA's use of Notley isn't a cerebral exercise, a scheme for arty recognition, or even a shortcut to a Canada Council grant. Notley's In The Pines was simply beloved. It was one of Engle and Whiteman's private secrets, a set of passwords. A pillow book. Part of two lovers' secret code.

Now, they sing those secrets. "Crying Out For Me" feels at once like a lesson and confession; a revealing of oneself. It feels troubled and changing - seeking, glimpsing. You seek and then you glimpse - there; there. AroarA sink and seek and shout "Goodnight Irene!". They let clear & muffled sounds roam over a scuzzy beat. They rasp warnings, they console. They make a beautiful sound. Some of the harmonics here are sinister, unresolved. And then there comes a line where the mist parts, and the sun is low, and every angled form seems to shiver with promise.


(image from Rubens' Anne of Austria)

Posted by Sean at March 22, 2013 11:40 AM

Great EP, I *shamefaced* hadn't heard of either artist before. Thanks for posting!

Posted by Jo Bell at March 23, 2013 2:45 AM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz

Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.

"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny