ARC: Church (2010)
“Church is a wonderful album where heavy rhythms coexist with inspired harmonies and mellotron's ambiences on powerful sequences”
1 Church 21:34
2 Bliss Plane 14:01
3 Torch 10:57
4 Veil 10:19
5 Falling Through to Rapture 17:38
(CD/DDL 74:32) (V.F.)
(Berlin School, England School)
During Arc's last trip to North America, the English duo gave two live performances; one at St. Mary's Church, and the other at WXPN radio station for the Star's End show hosted by Chuck Van Zyl. From this last concert, quite intimate you must admit, came out the album Rise. An album with a more atmospheric tendency. While that of the St. Mary's Church, CHURCH, offers a much more aggressive music. In fact, it's magic. The duo Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve succeed in creating a splendid performance where CHURCH bathes fully in the dogmatic mysteries of religions. A solid opus that surpasses all that Arc has produced to date. A wonder for the style of Berlin School EM and one of the solid albums of 2010!
The title-track opens with a distant wind shaped in a sinuous threatening. Small bells and a big one are resounding behind this misty mist where the breaths of mystical intrigues run along the hilly architectures of the holy walls. A dramatic intro where the intensity gradually increases with its synths and its enveloping mellotron strata and its soft melodies swaying under the strikes of percussions worthy of the encouragement for the rowers of those old Spanish galleons. A superb Gregorian intro where symphonic and angelic synths shine under percussion strikes that stun and captivate the senses. Around the 6th minute, we float in a sound abyss which quietly redefines the rhythmic structure where the musical world of Arc appears as if by magic; low hesitant and stealthily sequencing pattern, mellotron with oneiric fluted breezes and crystalline chords which mold a brief chimerical dance. A staging for a sequenced surge where the heavy chords shape a weightily cadence accompanied by a synth with overflowing breaths of a fractional synergy between melody and obsession. Little by little, these sounds lighten to immerse us in the glaucous universe of Arc where the tempos dither, between constancy and the ambient corridors, in a tumult of heterogeneous sounds which form hybrid and secondary rhythms. Church exploits its long walk that drives us like a roller coaster whose ending is unknown to us. This is great and inspired Arc that swims in full musical delirium, like the essence of the delicious Fracture. Delicate felted percussions among a keyboard with chords that flutter on crystal wings, Bliss Plane progresses on a sequencer with soft minimalist pulsations and other more pungent which are aggressive but randomly. Flirting between an overflowing rhythm and one more sustained, Bliss Plane depicts this repertoire of rhythmic duality specific to Arc with its modular sequences which go amplifying as in diminishing but always weaving its way through a subjugating synth whose nasal strata are unique to Arc.
Torch crosses musical corridors with disparate tones which flow on a purring pulsation and a synth with spectral breaths. Slowly a rhythm is formed among this synchronicity of tones, piercing the desire for an introduction with a chaotic rhythm which blossoms on a keyboard with hesitant chords and muffled percussions. Sustained percussions and subtle sequences which undulate with a half-restrained force, making of Torch a title where the rhythms merge by an astonishing paradox of the sequencer. Veil is the centerpiece of CHURCH. A heavy and hard title which requires more than two ears to savor it to its fullest extent and which begins with hesitant keyboard chords. Chords which skip awkwardly, and which are soon joined by drummed percussions and by sequences which are heavy of resonances that a soft synth struggles to pierce. Through this full sonority draws up a superb oneiric vision that a synth with delicate breaths lies on this hostile intro. And then, the sequences are pulsing alone. A race which seemed harmless, but which becomes subtly frantic, tracing another rhythm where a threatening sequencer is added and sticks to a mellotron which envelops us as in the heyday of the Moody Blues. The music explodes with apocalyptic heaviness. The slow mellotron strata merge into isolated piano and keyboard chords that recall the world of Mark Shreeve on Legion and on Assassin. Simply splendid! It's the divinity who fights the apocalypse in all its musical and poetic splendor. One of the good titles of 2010! Falling Through to Rapture is an extension of Rapture, from the Fracture album released in 2007. But a more awakened Rapture when a stealthy rhythm sneaks behind sumptuous mellotron strata and accelerates the pace among chords of nervous keyboards and a synth with long solos whose nasal curls mold a strange elven harmony. Faithful to its musical universe, Arc molds here a cadence on sequences as frantic as the keyboard chords, uniting a rhythm which oscillates between the tempered rhythmic and ambient which shape this finale of a very huge album from Arc.
To date, CHURCH is my album of the year. Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve have managed to create an intuitive universe which is linked to the world where pastoral Manichaeism prevails over the soft harmonies of a circle of hedonists. A beautiful album where heavy rhythms coexist with inspired harmonies and mellotron atmospheres on magical, heavy, powerful sequences unique to Mark Shreeve's rhythmic patterns. There are no empty spaces or time fills in CHURCH. Everything sticks together and is held like a great mass without any religion, but whose spirituality remains a story of music.
Sylvain Lupari (September 14th, 2010) ****½*
Available at DiN Bandcamp