Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spleen Arcana

Hello fellow progheads!  Heading out of Norway and an amazing week with Seven Impale, I decided to stay on course chasing down progressive bands with a sound that needs to be heard so as to be fully appreciated.  Setting the Concert Closet's GPS on "true prog," I found myself heading south on a quick jaunt to France and a sojourn with Spleen Arcana.

Spleen Arcana is an "...eclectic mix of symphonic prog, space rock, and art rock drenched in melancholic and contemplative moods."  There is no way I can let that descriptor go by without at least a small taste!  Of course you realize that a "small taste" translates to a week of prog-binging...so let us begin...

The first sampling taken from the buffet this week is an extremely interesting piece called "Fading Away."  The soft electronic/acoustic opening soothes the mind and spirit in preparation for what lies ahead.  Slowly the song begins to take shape as the addition of guitars, drums, and keyboards round out what is truly a mesmerizing piece of music.  I detect hints of Jean Michel Jarre, Al DiMeola, Mike Oldfield, and an odd aroma of Hocus Pocus in this prog brew...nice!  As the stylus moves farther across the vinyl, I am struck at how fast and how often the mood floats across the atmosphere taking pieces of me with it.  Want to spend ten plus minutes defying logic and gravity?  Put on a set of headphones and sit back...wait for it...wild ride, eh?

Serving number two is another eruption of sound, color, and imagery called "Tears Are Made To Flow."  This songs bursts with subtlety while painting the underside of your eyelids with colors from a 1973 Peter Max poster.  Spleen Arcana has mastered the art of understatement--they manage to explode all over your ears without so much as a velvet-handed slap...truly amazing.  The prog garden has a section far off in a corner that soaks in sun by the boatload and pours forth music rife with raw emotion, energy, and excitement.  Atomic Rooster and Genesis permeate this piece; I can almost see Peter Gabriel in his hooded robe gloriously  floating across the stage as the music swallows you whole.  Spleen Arcana hasn't so much moved the bar as they have changed the criteria by which the bar is judged.

Liner Notes...The heart, soul, and brain behind the project that is Spleen Arcana is Julien Gaullier. Julien plays guitar, bass, keyboards, sings vocals, and does the songwriting...which I assume means he is a tad too busy to drive the tour bus.  David Perron plays drums and provides rhythmic ideas, and Marie Guillaumet rounds out this marvelous trio on backing vocals, web and graphic design, and photography.  Spleen Arcana looks at prog through an entirely different lens, and credits attributed to each member shed a little light on their view.  The composition of the songs; complex layers painting elaborate pictures coupled with mood and tempo changes that leap across the prog garden like gazelle on the African plain.  Spleen Arcana hits you hard without coming across as angry--you almost look forward to the next thumping!

My final selection for review this week is a tune called "Memento Mori."  The song opens with a macabre feel--atypical of Spleen Arcana thus far. Melting quickly but without fanfare, the song moves to a mood more sombre than previous--welcome to the melancholic and contemplative...a definite paradigm shift.  Not so much dark as searching, this piece spikes into your marrow and flows through your core.  Julien's vocals are haunting, not just in this song but across the entire Spleen Arcana library, and Marie is the perfect complement to fill the spaces in the background.  Everything works here--but you better be prepared for a long trip.  So many mood swings and tempo changes you will feel like Cirque du Soleil set up a tent in your brain.  Best to dim the lights, sit back, and just enjoy the music shower...

The post below is called "Erin Shores."  Right from the start you understand Julien's affection for the mountains of Scotland.  David's drumming is showcased a bit, as is everything Spleen Arcana has--they seem to hold nothing back every time they pick up their instruments.  Once again Julien's voice wraps itself around the inner lining of you head, leaving nothing but mental memories.  Play this song just once--I dare you.

OK fellow progheads, 2015 may still be in its infancy, but the prog landscape is expanding and growing at lightning speed.  Spleen Arcana came to be in 2008 and thus far released two astonishing albums.  The prog garden is indeed producing quality fruit.  Spleen Arcana--like Seven Impale--pays homage to the prog genre and proceeds to raise the bar.  What impresses me most is how effortless the output seems.  There is nothing forced here; the music seems to flow from the very souls of the musicians. As my pulse settles back to a more normal rhythm, it is time once again to keep the search for all things prog moving...until next week...  

1 comment:

  1. What a great song; reaches the thinking mind. Enjoyed this blog post very much. I am envisioning myself becoming a prog head in 2015!