Arcade Fire - II

Arcade Messiah – II

The outlook for today is heavy with patches of melodic subtlety sweeping across your Auditory Cortex. Heavy guitars across the frontal gyrus of the cerebellum will sometimes clear to leave feelings of layered heaviness. It will be heavier further into the album with occasional drum fills, falling as cascading sound across the stereo spectrum. Feeling aggressive, with very occasional swirling synthesiser sounds. Maximum Temperature: Hot°C.

There is a severe risk that you will be sucked into the storm, sometimes rescued and sometimes pulled into the eye, to experience temporary respite. There is a degree of unpredictability, however, so you should be prepared. Reports are coming in of some people being pulled through to the other side of the raging vortex and having a smashing time.

But it’s not all a raging storm. There will be opening guitars, particularly at the start of the first track, but appearing elsewhere on the album, that are like rays of sunshine. But don’t get a false impression of quiet, pastoral arpeggio, the driving power of the album is likely to be revealed and it will be quite long-lasting. Black Dice Maze is expected to give soft, unprocessed sounding guitars interspersed with intricate melodies. Take care if you’re driving as it might just be the calm before that storm.

Blimey…I can’t keep that up.

This is a heavy album, with layers of tempestuous guitar skilfully conjuring up extravagant, even relentless rampaging riff-monsters once the songs get up to speed. I happen to like that. The contrast built in to the tracks means that there is more impact between the heavy riffs. It would be easy to look back at the listening experience and allow your memories of the other, softer melodies to be forgotten as if they weren’t there. Then, almost hiding away, is the beautiful little gem that is Gallows Way.

Whilst Arcade Messiah is ostensibly an instrumental project, the final track has vocals. John Bassett appears to have deliberately used effects to prevent comparison with the heavily layered and harmonic vocal style of his earlier work with King Bathmat.

The theme of the last track is the Apocalypse (which means “the unveiling” in Greek). The titular Four Horsemen are, of course, the first four of the Seven Seals that are broken in order to usher in the second coming of Christ during the Apocalypse. I’ve never seen that on a weather forecast. This ruins my analogy and covers a subject unrelated to any natural phenomena yet no less powerful a concept for all its human artifice. For this ninth and final track, John has chosen to cover a song by 1970’s progressive rock band, Aphrodite’s Child. Like all good covers John’s version is a re-interpretation that stays true enough to be recognisable. It is a long track, fleshing out the song to more than three times its original length and John has made it his own.

But if you want the full experience then you will have to visit John’s Bandcamp page and buy the CD because the last track is not for download. I recommend that you do.

Of course, my weather forecast analogy is just a crude device to frame this review into a better read than simply giving a blow-by-blow account of each track. I wanted to give a high quality review to reflect the high quality of this album. I usually end up with about 1,000 words of babble but you don’t need my wittering to get what this album is about. You need to hear it. This album grew on me and that is always a good sign of a great album. I decided that the promo CD wasn’t quite the experience I wanted and that I needed the full fat, Arcade Messiah II CD Digipak.

So I ordered it yesterday.

This is a very good album.

01. Moon Signal (7:16)
02. Red Widow (6:46)
03. Black Dice Maze (8:33)
04. Gallows Way (3:07)
05. Fourth Quarter (4:31)
06. Via Occulta (1:19)
07. Read The Sky (6:33)
08. Start Missing Everybody (2:58)
09. The Four Horsemen (18:43)

Total Time – 59:46

John Bassett – Everything!

Label: Stereohead Records
Release Date: 22nd Nov 2015

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