Ten Questions with Nicolay

Apricot Rail
Darcy James Argue
Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi
Félicia Atkinson
Atom TM
Black Jazz Consortium
Borghi and Teager
Kate Carr
Jace Clayton
Nicholas Cords
Cosmin TRG
Benjamin Damage
T. Dimuzio / Voice of Eye
Field Rotation
Stefan Goldmann
Good Luck Mr. Gorsky
Darren Harper
Chihei Hatakeyama
Jerusalem In My Heart
Marsen Jules
Philippe Lamy
Mary Lattimore
Linear Bells
Jay-Dea López
Andrew McPherson
Markus Mehr
Fabio Orsi & pimmon
Simian Mobile Disco
Colin Stetson
The Third Man
Simon Whetham

Compilations / Mixes
Art Department
Balance presents jozif
+FE Music: The Reworks
Ruede Hagelstein
Inscriptions Vol. 2
Rebel Rave 3
Your Victorian Breasts

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Broken Chip
City of Satellites
Yann Novak
Simon Whetham

Apricot Rail: Quarrels
Hidden Shoal

I'm not exactly sure why but for whatever reason I mistakenly had Apricot Rail pegged as a hard-hitting guitar-driven outfit. That impression was quickly set right when I put on the Perth-based sextet's sophomore outing Quarrels and was presented with the opening song “Basket Press,” a luscious instrumental that does feature guitars but does so primarily for the purposes of crafting a soothing mood. Yes, a heavier guitar-fueled attack does eventually surface, but not before Mayuka Juber's flute appears to establish even more clearly the band's multi-coloured identity. Apricot Rail helps distinguish its sound from the competition by prominently featuring woodwinds in its arrangements (bassist Daniel Burt also plays saxophone and Juber contributes clarinet as well as flute to the recording). As much pop group as post-rock outfit, the group also includes drummer Matt Saville and guitarists Ambrose Nock, Justin Manzano, and Jack Quirk, all of whom enrich the songs with bold splashes of colour (vocals, melodica, trumpet, electronics, and glockenspiel).

Largely recorded over a four-day spell during January 2012 in an isolated farmhouse in Western Australia, Quarrels offers a bounty of splendid songcraft and arrangements. The second piece, “Another Roof, Another Proof,” captures the band's softer side and lightness of touch in beautiful manner, and again demonstrates the rich range of instrumental colour the sextet is capable of bringing to an arrangement. “Cicadas...Part Two” likewise spotlights the band's softer side when a lovely waltz episode appears at the song's center.

Folk melodies etched by electric guitar and voice (“Come to Glasgow, my darling / And we're never coming home again”) lend “Running with an Egg on a Spoon” an appealingly rustic and nostalgic feel, and while I've not been to “Surry Hills,” based on the luscious setting evoked by the band, it's definitely a place I'd welcome visiting, especially when wide open skies and soul-replenishing natural air are conjured so vividly by it. A brief foray into guitar raucousness notwithstanding (“The Sunlight Experiments”), Quarrels impresses as a twelve-song collection that makes a more-than-strong case for Apricot Rail's particular blend of instrumental pop and post-rock.

April 2013