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Aroah



Aroah is the musical pseudonym of one Irene Tremblay, a Spanish-American singer in her early twenties with a dusty velvet voice and a penchant for simple, warm, subtly unconventional folk-pop compositions. Aroah's bilingual songs variously bring to mind Joni Mitchell's plaintive, poetic candor, Mazzy Star's narcotic, drifting psychedelia, and Cat Power's weird demons and shadows. And there's an alternately spooky and soothing tenor unlike anything we've heard before. Quiet but unexpected ambient noise and dark instrumentation help bring out that mood and make Aroah's music an ongoing process of disorientation and reorientation, elevating it far above straightforward coffeehouse fare in terms of complexity.

Aroah's sublime debut was a six-song, 17-minute EP entitled Cuando Termines con Todo, Habrá Terminando Contigo ("When you finish with everything, it will have finished with you") which featured production assistance from Migala's Abel Hernandez and Coque Yturriaga. Her follow-up project was a unique six-song split EP, Seis Canciones desde el Norte (Six Songs from the North) recorded in Northern Spain with Migala guitarist Nacho Vegas; Irene Tremblay sings backup on several Nacho Vegas tracks, while Nacho Vegas plays guitar on several Aroah tracks.

Then, in late 2002, Tremblay issued her first full-length album, a 40-minute, 14-song affair that beautifully realized the promise of her earlier EPs, while at the same time propelling her into new, more adult territory. On No Ser Podemos Amigos ("We Can't Be Friends"), Aroah leaves behind the rough bedroom pop edges in favor of a clean, elegantly minimal style of instrumentation that taps the folk-pop tradition while mixing in darker hues and more dissonant flavors, produced with blue guitar arpeggios, stark and unusual percussion choices, and haunting synthesized sounds. She's joined again by Hernandez and Nacho Vegas, as well as Frank Rudow (Viva Las Vegas, Manta Ray), who plays keyboards and percussion and handles production duties. Together, they've hit upon a new brand of cool and understated folky pop melancholia, reminiscent of many other great artists but not quite like anything else, past or present.

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