Whenever something special happens from the forms of the different types of music that may fit me, I know it’s going to be a special treat and filled with wonders I will never forget. Whether it’s from around different parts of the globe of hearing music in a different language or here in the States from the elements of the genre from progressive music, chamber, hard rock, or folk, there is something behind that door that there is going to be some magic when I open it.
And from the moment I heard Fernwood’s music, this is a duo that understands the acoustics and contemporary sounds that they bring to their inspirations. The duo considers Todd Montgomery and Djam Karet’s Gayle Ellett and they have been around since forming nine years ago and they have released three albums in which they released Arcadia this year. The concept of their third album is based on a story structure on finding the new utopian paradise of beauty and wilderness and the music sets the structure behind the concept.
Now this is my introduction to the music of Montgomery and Ellett and from the moment I put Arcadia on, I knew right there that this is something I would be taken on a journey into the world and sounds of Fernwood. The band didn’t use any computer manipulation on here. And from reading the notes of the back side of the album, the duo played the instruments out of wood and not to mention the keyboards thrown in.
The beautiful landscape and atmospheric wonders of Red Hill Trail that at times reminded me of Supersister’s No Tree Will Grow (On Too High a Mountain) with the droning touches thrown in and Todd’s sitar sets an Indian landscape of the wonders of where they would take the listener into next. The opening track, Bells Spring along with The Pan Chaser and Vision at Vasquez Rocks, is a walking trip into the worlds of a walking rhythm as both Gayle and Todd sets the beats that go through gentle into a Celtic-like dance and right into the toes in the cool waters of the lake for a peaceful serenity that makes you feel you are at home.
Fernwood also use some of the electronic keyboards to set the tone of the story. On The Lost Night, it has the Mellotron with the piece dealing being alone and lost in the middle of nowhere in the dark sky that can be scary and the instruments can really paint the picture on what is going on to create the atmosphere. Then, they are back into the walking rhythm beat as it gets into the sounds of the Roots genre by going into a different direction on Crossing the Divide while Owens Hideaway has a gentle driving down the roads and into the area that increases the moody and the instrumental vibes that is a primary fascination.
As I’ve mentioned, Fernwood uses keyboards including; Rhodes, Moog, Organ, and the Mellotron to give that atmospheric ideas in their mind along with the electric guitar to come in handy. And on Young Mountain Memory, it’s a little bit of the touch of the electronic used in the composition to give it meditative memories of going through the rocky steps.
Then it’s a trip to the countries as the plan to escape adds the drama and tension on how to survive with After the Big Sky Falls while Escape from Sycamore Canyon goes into the reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s folk-like sound that could have been used during the sessions for the third and untitled fourth album with a little psych touches to flow in. The closing track, Winter Way is a comforting composition that sees both Ellett and Montgomery playing off for a final curtain call as they relax and imagine the sun going down into the east and listening for the kids enjoying and having fun and fading off into where they would go to next.
If you had been stressed from a very, very busy day of school, work, and in college, then this album is a perfect and beautiful way to relax and enjoy and reliving the stress of listening Fernwood’s Arcadia. This is my fifth time now listening to their third album and I'm planning to discover their first two also. And this is an immense and constant instrumental album that I have enjoyed of the rooted, folky, and the contemporary sounds of the instruments that both Gayle Ellett and Todd Montgomery have released.