Biography - An Introduction to Dan Arborise

Dan was born amongst the jungles of Borneo to Polish parents and later moved to London via Nigeria. Having studied classical guitar and piano in his teenage years Dan soon became interested in plugging in his acoustic guitar to begin a musical journey of exploration. He played in a pop-punk band and other projects before deciding to embark on a solo career and moving to Edinburgh to study Physics.

Inspired by Nick Drake and John Martyn, Dan continued to play acoustic guitar exploring more unusual tunings and complex guitar techniques.

"Beguiling guitar hymns to truth and beauty" Uncut

Dan soon created his own distinctive sound and style, and began playing pubs, clubs and venues throughout the UK. Dan's first album Around in Circles was released in 2006 on the Just Music label and received excellent reviews. The album was produced by fellow label mate Jon Hopkins and was mastered by Simon Heyworth who had remastered Nick Drake's albums.

Around In Circles was written in an old cottage in the Scottish Borders. A nomadic soul Dan had found a place to settle after a childhood travelling across continents and a youth spent in London's endless urban horizons. Dan and his wife grew vegetables for sustenance and collected wood for heat. The album introduces us to a songwriter who chooses a simple way of living, and whose songs glimmer with the warmth of hearth and home. Perplexing the album was recorded at the Café Music Studios amongst the urban sprawl of East London in stark contrast to the environment in which the songs had been written.

A nationwide tour celebrated the release of Around In Circles and Dan played nearly 60 gigs that established his outstanding reputation as a performer including three sell out nights at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Dan was Artist of the Month in October and November 2006 for Cafe Nero, who promoted his music throughout all of their retail outlets. In January 2007 Dan was invited to support John Martyn for the performance of his seminal album Solid Air at The Celtic Connections Festival at The Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. Around in Circles became the seventh best-selling album in the Celtic Connections Festival Sales Chart and also reached number 2 in Mike Harding's Top Ten Folk Albums on BBC Radio Two.

In late 2006 Dan moved on again, this time to the other end of the UK making his new home in North Devon, a land of sweeping vistas, steep valleys, crumbling houses and expansive seascapes. He settled there with his wife, young daughter and faithful hound and worked on a farm in exchange for board and lodgings. They spent two years living a yurt on a wooded hillside, with water coming from a well and a wood burner for heat and cooking. This idyllic inspirational environment and simple lifestyle is evident in Dan’s songcraft for his second and more adventurous album Of Tide And Trail.

"There is something meditative about living on the coast, about the sea and the skies and the countryside around it. Being on a natural boundary between fundamental elements, earth and water, where one world ends another begins. It inspired me into writing longer, increasingly involved songs, and thinking more about textural qualities of sound."

Of Tide and Trail was released in August 2009 and demonstrates a clear progression in his music. The album showcases Dan’s evolving innovative guitar playing, song writing skills and intimate vocals. Dan sings about his beliefs and the important things in his life, like Drake and Martyn his spirituality pervades his music. His unusual guitar tunings and beautiful acoustic guitar playing is frequently transformed but never compromised or overpowered by his use of electronic guitar effects.

Dan bought a harmonium, and fell in love with the hypnotic drones on which he built songs like My Dear. He was also drawn towards the mesmerizing atmospheres conjured by Brian Eno's early ambient works and Robert Fripp's soundscapes. Dan enthuses, "Instrumental 'ambient' music to me somewhat mirrors the rhythm of living in the country. It fits the idea of the slower lifestyle, rather than a purely unrelenting work ethic, and embodies sentiments that we should perhaps take more notice of in our day-to-day lives.”

"Immaculate guitar ... perceptive songs ... luminous production" Word

Nevertheless, Of Tide and Trail's lyrics are less about nature, and more about nurture. Cries is a remarkable nine-minute composition about a father's experience of his first-born and is, he believes, amongst his most honest songs. "The birth of your child makes you think about the big questions that persist through the ages. I wrote it at four in the morning, with the moonlight flooding through the windows, the boundaries between generations of family, current and past, becoming increasingly blurred."

"It's the kind of song that could be taken for a rather over-active sentimentality, but for me having a child has been the most magical, awakening and occasionally terrifying experience. It brings forth an emotional purity and intensity which I've attempted to capture. There are no platitudes or pretensions to it. It's just how I feel, unadulterated and unadorned."

Other songs on Of Tide and Trail travel from driving folk-rock peaks to hushed reflective valleys. Days Even Years documents the passage of time and the inevitability of death, with an incredible tenderness. The spry, jaunty opener, Another Side Of The Sky, and the clarion call of I Live, both bristle with unbridled, infectious energy. From the questioning of life in the contemplative lyrics of She Told Me How To Love Her, to an ode to a growing daughter My Child, a huge heart beats boldly.

After the songs were written and ready, Dan knew he had to find a special place to record them and that place was Firefly Studios on the edge of Dartmoor, where Dan lived in a cabin in the garden. "Every night, after finishing in the studio I'd return to the cabin, and spend my evenings with the weather, of which I experienced all varieties, close outside. Every morning, I'd wake up, go walking on the moor and then return to the studio. I feel I need peace and silence to write, so to also have that to develop my sound on record meant that it flowed quite naturally."

This quietness also inspired his album's most ambitious songs. The epic Under Your Spell is 7 minutes and 16 seconds of building guitars, vocals and washes of electronics that slowly submerge the listener. Feet in the Sea, Head In The Stars burns slowly and then crests in a wave of intense, psychedelic rhythms before it ends as beautifully as it began, Dan sings, "The tide it pulls forever on, back to where we all belong".

"Layered acoustics create a subtle backdrop to enrichingly satisfying simple songs ... the spell that is cast lingers on through an impressive debut" Guitarist

Described as a folk singer for the 21st century by the music press in response to Around In Circles, Of Tide And Trail illustrates Dan’s desire to pick up this mantle, wear it with warm, gentle, confidence, and take it further, much further. Of Tide and Trail is filled with positivity for us all. It is for the tough times we live in, for our hearts and our heads, and for the possibilities of hope.

Immerse yourself in the magic of Dan’s music…