L. Pierre "Dip"
With Dip, the rich gossamer weave of Arab Strap's Aidan Baker is shorn of the sample heavy tendencies of previous full-lengths and strafed to an array of organic instruments. At times, Baker pulls this arrangement off with real aplomb, as faint pulses and hesitant notes bud into leafy assemblages of sound which are dense with detail and airborne with melody.
Adorned with the cry of gulls nestled alongside airy female vocals and the gentle spray of strings and harmonium, "Gullsong" acts like an effortless breeze, carrying one towards a balmy ocean where the sky flushes crimson. Subsequent songs dilly around in a similar manner, albeit often to far less entrancing result. Tracks such as "Ache" and "Drift's" return to plunder these very same seaside motifs which, upon each successive appearance, are resigned more and more to striking tired, predictable poses. In fact, asides from the recurring melodic fragments and rhythmic devices, on numerous pieces the strings are pruned of any specificity and are simply made to unfurl as though they were straightforward loops.
With the introduction of "Gust", Baker attempts to add a dash of disquiet, hanging his vaporous drones over some caustic string stabs and flecks of static which make the air vibrate with unease, but the effect is curtailed by the sunny, shining production. "Hike" also shakes the sleep from its eyes, its skipping banjo line and spirited flute intonations tussle and surge to ruggedly exhilarating heights. Much of the album lacks this dimension, however, and the whole comes across as flat and clumsy. 4/10 -- Max Schaefer (23 January, 2007)