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Album Review

Arc, the duo of Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve light a fire with Blaze, the pair's third album, and set the rafters burning with this pyrotechnic disc. It's far removed from their previous collaborative efforts, although ribbons of their last two discs can just be discerned on a handful of numbers. The slightly foreboding melody that introduces the title track never hints at what's to come, for without warning the pair burst out with a propulsive R&B riff, in a fabulous '50s spy style, while spacy effects slam about in the stratosphere overhead. Like a well-tended fire, the number continually blazes up and burns down, while all the time guesting drummer Carl Brooker keeps feeding the flames. Absolutely incendiary, Blaze sounds like nothing either man has ever recorded before. Further into the set, "Sparked" is tinged with "Blaze"'s spy styling, but here the muscular rhythm, which slides towards industrial at times, is the focus, while overheard the synth melodies swoop in and out. Electronic soul-ability is a description that partially captures the funky faux bassline, but ignores the spacy effects that slink about overhead. Brooker propels that piece as well, but arguably his best contribution is found on "Klangwand," which begins in a building crescendo of bells and harmonic synths, while a bubbly rhythm ebbs forth below. As the tempo speeds up, a jaunty faux fiddle melody dances onto center stage, which gradually shifts into sweeping synths. It's incredibly propulsive, a busy piece, underpinned by Brooker's compulsive beats and stirring cymbal work. The drummer plays no part in "Corrosion," which is equally rhythm driven, a dark, brooding, bubbling piece with funereal melodies, eerie sounds, and a rhythm that eventually toughens toward industrial before the piece gradually softens and brightens. However, "Pulse Train" sports the breeziest melody, once it finally bubbles in after a slow, meditative build-up. A percolating rhythm and fine stick-work from Brooker speeds this train down the tracks, while synths sweep over the bubbly melody. These five pieces encompass the rhythmic half of the set, which is interspersed by three far more free-form pieces. "Silent White Light" has an eerie edge, swirling space effects, and eventually a simple melody line that is played out between a variety of different keyboards. "Trial in Scarlet" sounds to have been held in Kafka's Castle; wind blows around its vast cells, frightening noises echo from the darkest corners, and surely those are the screams of the tortured that haunt the shadows, while a funereal organ proclaims the prisoners' doom. But as disturbing as that it is, it's nothing compared to the fearsome "Mother." By turns ominous, majestic, omnipotent, and outright terrifying, this is one scary mama, and if she represents Gaia, we sound to have pissed her off for the final time. Blaze is an extraordinary album, the dynamics are astounding, the play of rhythms compulsive, the melodies integral, and the atmospheres ever changing and dramatic. Arc's earlier albums were illuminating, this set, however, is a revelation.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '70s

One of several guises under which Savvas Ysatis and Taylor Deupree recorded during the 1990s in New York, which also included the more significant...
Full bio
Blaze, Arc
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  • 69,00 kr
  • Genres: Electronic, Music
  • Released: 20 October 2003

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