ARCANE: A Tale of Unease (2012)
“It's an intense 60 minutes where magic and music come together in the most beautiful Berlin School tradition of the vintage years”
1 Darkened Mirrors 21:06
2 House on the Barren Hill 5:26
3 Sunrise 1877 6:58
4 The Portrait 9:14
5 A Tale of Unease 8:28
6 Stone Tapes 6:30
(DDL 57:43) (V.F.)
You believe in it? In these corridors, these breaches in time which open in the present moment and lead into a parallel universe? Myth, legend or scientific artifact? The fact remains that in the 1970s, a door opened, and an artist got lost there. His music, very topical, charms nomads who cross miraculous counties and, from time to time, we can hear bits and pieces if we stick our ears carefully to the doors of our dreams. A brilliant scriptwriter of sounds is one of the rare who have access to it. And in the recesses of his studios he masters these works in order to remind the nostalgic that time has no hold on art. Arcane is one of the many projects of the legendary Paul Lawler; a seasoned EM musician who has an incredible sense for stories, myths and mysteries and who is strongly inspired by Tangerine Dream of the Encore years and by the music of Edgar Froese at the height of his creativity. Oh… that I see you frown and hear you sigh; Another contender for the throne left vacant by Baumann, Franke and Froese! Another artist who lives in the past and who serves us something of deja-entendu! No! Not at all. The originality of the Arcane project is that one has the real impression that he is this artist lost between these parallel universes, where creativity has no time. A TALE OF UNEASE is already Arcane's 7th album. And, as you will hear, this is an album straight out of a period when vintage EM still had so much to offer.
Darkened Mirrors takes us back in time with an epic title with psychedelicosmic aromas from vintage years. The intro is atmospheric with chimes and bells ringing and ringing in electronic eddies, in whistling winds with disparate tones and heavy reverberations that leave thunderous sound prints igniting the industrial and electro-organic fauna which crawls in the slow, dying introduction of Darkened Mirrors. A first line of flute rises above this din a little before the 5th minute, unclogging the glaucous atmosphere to give way to a superb line of sequences which makes its keys dance in a zigzagging undulatory movement. Synth solos with nasal tones and wavy shapes embrace this steep rhythm on an invisible circular staircase. Percussions with clattering of typewriter season the rhythmic diversity while the electronic fauna becomes more musical. And there we can say that Darkened Mirrors takes off; twisted solos with curls cooing in darkness and a slightly zigzagging rhythmic trajectory whose spasmodic momentums refuse the embraces of a glaucous atmosphere. The rhythm dies out around 9th minute and the sordid electro-organic ambience crystallizes Darkened Mirrors in an apocalyptic vision. There where the winds caress of its jerky breezes a battlefield where fallen souls cling to spectral horses whose trampling of hooves are roaming in the hoops of a synth filled of Pink Floyd's aromas and of black howls. The rhythm comes back to life a little before the 15th minute. A rhythm which makes trot its fine kicks suspended between two cadences under the bites of keyboard riffs which is the first real foray into the world of the Dream. Oh… is the synth magical here? It braids plaintive solos which water and caress the delicacy of a rhythm and its keys which pulsate and flutter in parallel in an electro-organic dryad which rocks us to the reflections of immobility. House on the Barren Hill bursts into our ears with a heavy and threatening gait, like the slow poundings of slave traders castigating the oarsmen who push the galleys. The pulsations resound in the clicking of silver cymbals, while layers of dark organ weave the sides of a sinister melody that fluted winds temper with their angelic songs which are lost in superb Babylonian orchestrations. It's a very good theatrical title with a fascinating progression. These electronic eddies which float like gelatinous hoops mold the cadaverous atmospheres of the album. Like murmurs of electro-plasmic suction cups, they open the very ambient Sunrise 1877 whose organic fauna spits drizzle of melodies wandering in mellotron sadness with some very Dreamian scent.
If to date our ears are enchanted to the extreme by A TALE OF UNEASE, The Portrait throws us to the ground. Always woven in the meanders of anguish, the intro is full of soft tones cooing in muddy vases. With these helicopter propellers turning in slow motion, the departure of The Portrait is sinister and floating. It's a sonorous ornamental woodland with quirky sinister tones which roam along the corridors of latent madness. But something magic is happening. These guttural murmurs gradually detach from the nightmarish fog to form a strange rhythmic approach that sequences catch in passing, edifying the astonishing structure of a rhythm that flutters of its keys jumping on the spot. This rhythm is as captivating as it is mind-blowing. Driven by a rhythmic stubbornness which is only equaled by its hypnotic magnetism, it delves into the mixed atmospheres of the vintage years where the mellotron flutes overhang the knocking of metals and the harmonic riffs of keyboard which harmonize with the groans of pulsations with eroded echoes. And out of nowhere comes a guitar and its elusive solos that are so reminiscent of the world of Edgar Froese. The Portrait is the kind of title which leaves indelible traces, and which alone is worth the price of the album. After a slow intro that shines with all the ambient elements of A TALE OF UNEASE, the title-track extends its stealthy rhythm which advances under the mysticism of an intense bluish fog. Sequences and percussions crackle all around this hypnotic minimalist ascent which spits its charming venom through a suave Mellotron and its morphic breaths. If we think that Arcane only plagiarizes Tangerine Dream, Paul Lawler shows the opposite with Stone Tapes which is an authentic foray into the world of Dream. Everything is there; mystical atmosphere woven into the mellotron flute, a stream of arpeggios sparkling on a bed of sand and a rhythmic structure nourished by fine waves that oscillate under the charms of keyboard riffs and chthonian choirs, embracing the musical reminiscences of Edgar on Stuntman and Pinnacles. Stone Tapes is really carved in the furrows of Tangerine Dream, while the other 50 minutes of A TALE OF UNEASE, is Arcane that Tangerine Dream would have liked to do!
Superb, musical and bewitching A TALE OF UNEASE is a pure masterpiece that travels happily between these two universes that we don't see but hear since the beginning of the Teutonic invasion. It's an intense 60 minutes where magic and music come together in the most beautiful Berlin School tradition of the vintage years. To have absolutely!
Sylvain Lupari (March 5th, 2013) *****
Available at Arcane Bandcamp