ARCANE: The Curio Maker's Coffin (2020)
“Without saying that it's an album that I would listen to it each week, although 3 tracks landed in my iPod, this is for those in search of fanciful landscapes”
1 The Curio Maker's Coffin 5:54
2 The Crow 5:38
3 Memento Mori 6:19
4 The Limonaire Figure 4:54
5 Patchwork Clock 5:08
6 Impossible Box 4:42
7 The Periscope 5:04
(DDL 37:40) (V.F.)
(Modular Synth Ambiences)
It was in the wake of Automaton, an experimental EM album built on the bases of modular synths released in 2016, that this THE CURIO MAKER'S COFFIN was found in the recordings' reels of Arcane studio. And like Paul points out, modular synthesizers are the main source of ambience creation and sound design, while the piano, vintage synths and brass instruments, horn and slide trombone type, are responsible for the musical direction and solos. In other words, it's the art of creativity stretched to its maximum. Who says modular synth also says cinematic atmospheric music. And from an artist with a musical history like Arcane, there are always traces of Tangerine Dream somewhere… And in my mind the sound fauna of The Keep is well illustrated here with an updated vision from Paul Lawler.
The title-track emerges from an organic and aquatic fusion with slide-out trombone solos floating on a marsh where an armada of critters and mini creatures stretch their jaws, you can hear them boning, in tonal fauna which breathes more and more this night terror when the moon radiates its emerald colors. A flute ties up a melody that takes refuge in the air in suspension from a Mellotron while we hear a big beast shiver in the background. Imagine The Swamp Things on Mars and you have a good hint of The Curio Maker's Coffin which likes to play the flute like making the pond of its greenish inhabitants grow. The Crow offers an equally variegated opening, where the electronics of the future sleeps with the organic of rainforests. A good horn rises in order to draw a beautiful line of melody floating above this less muddy swamp where we hear in the distance the trot of a rhythm which advances like the soft rubs of Cabasa. This form becomes a ticking which imposes its strong presence as the atmospheres multiply by ten their dominance with the amplification of the trumpets of death and the croaking of what once were crows. Intense, these atmospheres reduce the pressure to lead The Crow in a final where the crows neigh instead of croak and where the flute weaves a small thread of serenity.
After an orchestral opening, Memento Mori offers a rhythmic flow that is very Tangerine Dream of the Logos and The Keep years. A short phase that reminds us of Arcane's past and which dies out in a finale dominated by a flute whose ethereal chants end up flirting with a chthonian zone. This flute goes with a sharper and clearly more fragile tune in a very Berlin School pattern of rhythm, which is more sustained this time, of The Limonaire Figure which is also very TD. Patchwork Clock is a title of atmospheric elements filled with ringing and also of flute layers whose jerky harmonies are lost in a territory of dormant sparrows. Impossible Box assaults us with these big hornets that flutter and roar heavily on agile drums. Or is it the opposite? The fact remains that a mocking melody adds the weight of surrealism to this abstract ode where the noise outweighs the harmonic elements, except for the finale where repetitive pulsations support the presence of an almost virginal flute. The Periscope stages a nature that snores under layers of dreamlike synths, vaguely announcing the arrival of a piano crumbling its dreams on a turbulence tamed by sweetness.
Paul Lawler believed that the current moment, the pandemic and its consequences, was conducive to an album like THE CURIO MAKER'S COFFIN. It takes an artist of his caliber to doubt the quality of his works! Except that in this context and in its context of creativity from modular synth, this small 38-minute album was unjustly trapped in its reels. Without saying that it's an album that I would listen to every week, although 3 tracks totaling more than 16 minutes are already in my iPod: section best music of Arcane Part III, THE CURIO MAKER'S COFFIN is an opus which should please to all those who are looking for sound exploration in a context flirting with musicality. I give it a big 4 stars for research and for the rhythm section…
Sylvain Lupari (May 25th, 2020) *****
Available at Paul Lawler Bandcamp