Apostle of Hustle
Arts & Crafts
olkloric Feel begins with a sniff. And that’s probably as good a way to encapsulate the record as any. Andrew Whiteman, most well known as the guitarist for Broken Social Scene throws in everything on his debut album. But in working with Julian Brown (multi-instrumentalist) and Dean Stone (percussionist), the songs tend to veer towards a certain sensibility honed during Whiteman’s time in Cuba, in which he reportedly learned to play the tres (a Cuban guitar).
But Whiteman’s no Paul Simon, bringing the sound of a nation back with him to educate the masses. And he acknowledges that, anyway, in his website explanation of how the record came to be. Instead, he’s incorporated the feel of the nation into the music, rather than the sound. Which is, at once, a more interesting and difficult maneuver. Because it’s not that the tres features heavily on the album. In fact, for the most part, the set-up is usually pretty standard. What Whiteman picked up in Cuba, or at the very least crystallized, is an expansive pop sound that takes in more than the usual North American pop sound.
The backup band is a major help in the endeavor, with Stone providing impressively swinging drumming and Brown breaking out a variety of instruments helping to color the expansive and psychedelic arrangements that are the rule, rather than the exception.
Furthering Whiteman’s love of a mythic pop music past that encompasses the natural sounds of raw recording and kitchen-sink sessions, the CD is broken up into “two sides”. It’s a strange move in this digital age, but is in keeping with Whiteman’s naturalistic approach. It begins in epic fashion with the nearly eight minute title track that winds its guitar melody through a number of permutations before its end. It’s followed up nicely with the most BSS-sounding track, “Sleepwalking Ballad”, which if not for its lack of ending might rank up with that group’s finest work. The first side ends with the sound-collage outro of “Kings and Queens” and slowly slides into its second side with the placid “Song For Lorca”. This side, like its predecessor, peaks with an energetic rollicking number, in this case “Dark Is What I Want / Strutter’s Ball”.
There’s a story that seems to go with every Arts and Crafts release. BSS is a huge conglomerate that somehow comes together to create blissful pop music, Valley of the Giants is only moved to create music when composing imaginary scores to movies and Apostle is no different. Luckily, it’s both a story worth telling and hearing for yourself.