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Angles

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Album Review

Most of the weaknesses in Arca's debut album were fixed on the follow-up, titled Angles, but more importantly it feels like a group effort. Sylvain Chauveau (guitar, keyboards) and Joan Cambon (bass, guitar, programming) are joined this time by drummer Julien Brandwyk and cellist Géraldine Devillières. Matthias Meier (clarinets) and Widy Marché (guitars) also make appearances. The songs are much more heart-taking, developing lush atmospheres dipped in melancholia without sounding frail. Chauveau is a mainstay of the post-rock movement (to talk of a movement), and with Angles he shows that Arca could become the biggest band in the field since Tortoise and Godspeed You Black Emperor!. One possible obstacle is the music's reliance on French spoken voices to develop a subtext to these otherwise instrumental pieces. Themes of deception, erotic dysfunction, and media manipulation are dear to Chauveau and empower the music with a subversiveness that is more convincing than what GYBE! has done, yet if you don't understand French, it will all sound like clichéd textural backdrops. The best musical moments happen when a slow, deceptively simple (two, three notes) and repetitive melody on guitar or organ tops a double-time motif — in "Face" and "Perspective of Nude," both featuring mallet percussion (or similar-sounding keyboard patches), the music gets very close to Pierre Moerlen-era Gong without the blandness common in this brand of jazz-rock. Without a single weak track and with plenty of replay appeal, Angles is a must-have and one of the best instrumental rock albums of 2003. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Angles, arca
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