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An Arrow Made Of Air – An Arrow Made of Air Review

Subdued Celtic and Irish folk inspired by British mythology.

What does An Arrow Made of Air sound like?

Celtic folk ambient mysteries.

The review of An Arrow Made of Air – An Arrow Made of Air

Paul McLaney and Oscar West found themselves inspired after reading ‘Storyland: A New Mythology of Britain’. The book was written by Amy Jeff and it is about British myths and the landscapes that inspired them. Falling somewhere between Irish and Celtic folk, An Arrow Made of Air is a cinematic album that evokes all kinds of rich imagery.

cover art for An Arrow Made of Air
An Arrow Made of Air

The album opens with the instrumental ‘The Giant’s Dance’ but most of the songs have lyrics. It sets the dramatic tone of fiddles, whistles and deep resonating bodhran drums crossing the borders of Ireland and Scotland. It’s all about the fiddles and woodwind though and each track is centred around these two instrumental layers. Whether it’s in the evocative misty burrows of ‘Severn’s Song’ or the gutsy harmonic drones of ‘Child of the Sea’, the atmosphere is thick and densely packed with mystery. Ambient keyboard drones and a hazy long-tail echo also add gravitas to the arrangements. These songs are jigs, they sound like slow-moving drone shots over misty mounds and lakes.

Different tracks take you into different moods. ‘A Deeper Poetry’ is a lush, airy whistle-led piece that relaxes and calms. ‘A Slow Burning Flame’ leaves tendrils of hope and passion with the rarely used higher octave vocals and lilting fiddles. ‘The Wind Over the Water’ is more pensive, as if we are witnessing a love being torn apart from opposite sides of a valley. Celtic laments and mournful strides are aplenty in ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, which leans into the album’s ambient side. A hurdy-gurdy-styled synth underwrites all the fiddles and strings and whilst the track isn’t a dirge, it feels very downbeat.

An Arrow Made of Air specialise in mystical folk tracks and ‘The Lark & The Raven’ showcases this best. Distant harp, deep drum booms and light whistles and fiddles curl around the closely recorded vocals. The poetic lyrics are oddly specific to a folklore event but when I read them, they work as a hymn too. Lyrically the album is steeped in foreboding warnings and tales of woe. Lost love is central to ‘Will You Never Come Away With Me?’ which speaks of someone crafting rings of devotion and leaving scars in the water over intensely subdued Celtic folk. Landscapes are painting in your mind all of them feel anciently creepy due to the musical tone of the album. Even ‘Faraway’, possibly the sole upbeat instrumental, has a sanguine taste to it. I think it is because the track lacks bottom end and so the lilting fiddles hold a little more sadness than usual. The album closes out with the stark ‘Let Her Tears Fall’ and the patriotic ‘One’s Own Nation’. The latter track makes comment on serving your country as if it is the greatest gift and draws out an atmospheric foreboding. I wonder if the landscape talked about here is the battlefield.

An unusual album at its core, ‘An Arrow Made of Air’ took me a few listens to really unearth all the layers to it. Part of that is not being familiar with the book, but then I found myself playing a mental game when listening to each track. Since I know the album is inspired by the landscapes each myth was born from, I find myself painting landscapes Bob Ross style in my mind as the music plays. Sometimes it is the Pennines. Another time Epping Forest. Then it’s the Scottish coast. This album is born to let your imagination run wild. I adore its restrained, ambient subtly too. It’s so obvious to bring out jaunty jigs and overbearing fiddle motifs. An Arrow Made of Air keeps things moody and dark but intimate and soft too. Akin to Pandora’s box or a secret whisper, this might be a hidden gem in your music collection. Don’t sleep on it.

Recommended track: The Lark & The Raven

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An Arrow Made of Air - An Arrow Made of Air

8

8.0/10

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