Arbes' Psalms is like spending a week in the clouds.
Back within a year and a half of their last EP, Arbes returns with even dreamier vocals and tempos just fast enough for grooving. Psalms switches gears from their first release, Swimmer, adding intensified croons from vocalist Jess Zanoni with a blanket of opaque overtones. If Swimmer was a day at the beach, Psalms is five days in the clouds. The album begins with “Sintra,” easing the listener in the same way one would imagine the feeling of drifting down a rabbit hole. Within the first five seconds, sounds loop and intensify in volume through an electric synth. Hypnotized, you'll feel jolted by the entrance of Anita Agathangelou on the drums as the synth eases out. The softness of the song allows you to stay in this rabbit hole—just smooth enough to sway to the beat in the same way water glistens under the sun. Zanoni wraps up the song by repeating the phrase “carry away” for a mesmerizing ending.
“Follow Towards” begins with a serene sci-fi tone, eventually disappearing with the emergence of the drums and keyboard. Zanoni’s vocals lead the listener right back to the hypnotizing spiral. This song is perfect for laying on the grass while searching for animals in the clouds above. Agathangelou’s drumbeat has a slight jazzy tinge with her consistent use of the cymbals. Towards the end of the song, however, the fleshy electronic sounds return to guide the song towards its closing. "No Home To Know” has a serene turn around—melancholy yet robust. As the song progresses, the instrumentals begin to drift together as Zanoni slithers in and out of the drum beat. “Fortunes” follows with an upbeat tone, initially reminiscent of SALES. While Zanoni's voices still weaves in and out, it soon begins to rise. She warbles: “You wont feel right overnight / I want you to love me it's not much to ask,” ending the verse with sound improvising similar to that of the mermaids in fairy tales I used to watch when I was younger. As the song winds down, the vocals disappear while Agathangelou leads on the drums once more. The final few bars, however, are reminiscent of a church organ, bringing light to the albums' title. The transition between "Fortunes" and titular "Psalms" morphs from that of a solemn organ to one reminiscent of collective singing, mirrored in the movement of sound from instrument to instrument.
Zanoni’s vocals on closer "Flutuar," however, differ from the rest of the EP. They are soft but firm as if to guide the listener one last time. At first, the pulsating tones of the song are rigid to one’s ear, but by the end of the song, the fluctuation in sound guides takes control of the listener as if it were a friend dragging you somewhere; they are grasping your hand. The song eventually fades out, leaving the listener with nothing but a soft static. The robust electronic sounds of Psalms tie the seven songs together as the listener is eased out of the album just as ethereally as they were guided in. While the audio hypnotizing might be over, I would advise laying in the grass for an extra ten minutes afterwards. You’ll probably find some cool clouds along the way.
Listen to Arbes on bandcamp.
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Amelia Eskenazi is a feminist and gender studies and art student at Colorado College. In their free time, they enjoy collaging boxes, dying their hair at 2 am, and eating freeze pops in the shower. Their political pondering and rants can be found on Twitter and their photographic outbursts can be found on Instagram at photobscura_ and a_eskenazi.