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Arcana – Emerald

What is there to say about Arcana that has not already been said? Peter Bjärgö and his crew of extremely talented vocalists and musicians have already swept the globe with their enchanting music, angelic voices and unbridled atmospheres. Arcana is, in me, a potent poison that started with the wonderful “Dark Age of Reason”, whose song Source of Light captured my heart as a fledgling and continued to infect my very being with wonderful albums such as “The Last Embrace”, “Inner Pale Sun” and “Raspail”. “Emerald” is a mini-cd and the first of those to be released since “Body of Sin” in 2002. It contains three songs of previously unreleased material that will offer a glimpse of what is to come in the coming full-length “As Bright as a Thousand Suns”. All of this might come from a biased individual, but even if Arcana are a wonderful project and quite unintriguing – and even if I pour loads of praise into “Emerald” – it is proof that this is about as far as Arcana will ever come.

If anyone reading this has lived in a cocoon for the last 16 years Arcana is a Neoclassical project that combines heavenly vocals, both male and female, with well-defined rhythms and sweeping orchestrations that could easily fit into any major movie about any fantastic story ever being told. As The End Draws Near is more proof that the voices of Arcana can make souls soar and stones cry. Precious Stone actually took me by surprise by being quite different from what I had expected, and with Arcana that is a good thing.

Mentioning Arcana at any neoclassical convention is like mentioning Stephen Spielberg at Hollywood, it’s hard to spend time searching for neoclassical artists without bumping into Arcana as inspiration. The problem with being on the top is, who do Arcana look to for inspiration? Once again let me clear out: I love Emerald, it is a short but oh-so-beautiful little album that really ties together lovely production with excellent compositions and divine vocals, but then again have not all Arcana albums been that way? I could almost imagine the sound of this album before I started it and foreseen my surprise that not much had changed from the earliest album down to this one. Sure, “Le Serpent Rouge” was quite unique, but apart from that the quality has continuously gone skywards while the compositions and arrangements have more or less stayed the same – and will probably stay so forever. Arcana are the bread and butter of today’s neoclassical scene and they hold that throne for a reason. The music they create is distilled heaven with a touch of ages past, but I can’t help feeling a bit bitter. As a follower of change and a lover of music it is hard to see your favourite artists try to evolve only to fail miserably, but then again maybe it is better to aim for the stars and miss then never lifting your eyes above the mud… Maybe…

“Emerald” is a great album by a great artist, and even writing this I know that I will buy and love their upcoming album “As Bright as a Thousand Suns”, and so should you. Even the press release for their new album speaks of a proliferation of melodies to a larger family, so maybe it is the way it should be. But even the most humble of beings will tire of nectar and ambrosia if that is all that is ever served.

Tracklisting:

01. As The End Draws Near
02. A Cage
03. Precious Stone

Rating: 4/5
Written by: Skarsnik
Label: Cyclic Law [FRA]
Neoclassical / darkwave