Des Ark is the creation of North Carolina native singer/songwriter Aimee Argote. The first time I saw Des Ark they were performing as a three member outfit, adding drums and second guitar to Aimee's compositions. The performance brought me to tears at times with it's beauty and power. The melodies were haunting and introspective. I was happy to receive a digital copy of this from Paramnesia Records, as it delivers some more of the excellence that I've come to know from Des Ark. This is a live recording on WXDMU, which means there are no studio tricks or adjustments. What you're hearing is the songs played in their most genuine form.
This performance mainly features Aimee and her guitar, though there are a few tracks where some additional guitar is provided by Johnny Ward. Aimee's voice keeps from falling into the standard folk-indie trap and this is probably due to some Southern influence that's working itself into the melodies. The louder vocals also carry a great sense of desperation and expose a vulnerability that is usually not as common in music like this.
"Peace To You Too, Motherfucker" opens the record up with very nice guitar work. The whisper-like vocals drape over the slow guitar and lock in a nice sound. There's some great dynamics that feature softer playing coupled with some even quieter vocals. "Coney Island Street Meat" takes a more upbeat approach with some fast finger-picking guitar work and more pronounced vocals.
Songs like "My Little Bantam Rooster" and "Nitetime Moths" show off some great dynamics with their quiet verses that transition into a loud, choppy choruses. Though, "Nitetime Moths" speeds by as at a run time of 1:07, the shortest track on the record.
The next 3 tracks featuring some extra guitar work provided by Johnny Ward. You can hear some extra texture in the instrumentation, but it doesn't necessarily make the other songs sound empty by any means. It's a subtle addition. "Giving Tree" was my favorite of the three; I just love the way the clear vocals find their way into the picking and strumming.
"You Pregnant Motherfucker" is the second song using the term "Motherfucker" and takes on the same slow and cautious mode as the first track. It's percussive guitar picking is almost piano-like in it's delivery and adds to the mood. Around 1:50 the song comes unleashed with strong strums and that quivery, urgent vocal I mentioned earlier. "Snake Stuff" closes things up with a smoother, upbeat approach that is held together with a great fullness due to the precise guitar work that fills the space well.
Lyrically, Des Ark seem to keep things very personal on this record. Each song seems to be a stand alone narrative, telling a story about a particular time in Aimee's life, or perhaps she's an observer telling the story of someone else's life. There's some very straight forward story telling here, but also some very nice use of metaphor to help bring you to your conclusion. I believe this some material that would make even the snobbiest of musicians take notice.
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