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Marc Carlton - Reflex Arc CD (album) cover


Marc Carlton


Crossover Prog

3.97 | 10 ratings

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The Rain Man
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Marc Carlton is as underground as you can get when it comes to who's heard of his music. But unlike some bands/artists that lay undiscovered for a reason, i.e. they're rubbish. Marc's music is so far from mainstream, it's like visiting the remote parts of Greenland; endless beautiful landscapes with not a McDonalds in sight. It is a place where few people ever venture but for those that do, are rewarded with an unforgettable and mesmerising experience.

This is the 5th album proper Marc has made or the 7th if you include soundtracks. In true Mike Oldfield style, Carlton plays all the instruments appearing on the album, including a range of different guitars including 12 string, classical, electric and acoustic. This works well in particular where the guitars are layered with the different guitar lines on top of each other to achieve a fuller sound. The synthesiser is the other key instrument on the album which he creates some very nice effects. There are some tracks which are more synth focused than guitar which I thought brought a nice balance to the album as a whole.

Reflex Arc has a nice flow about it and there are no parts which feel like they are out of place. The vibe I get when listening to the album is one of peace and harmony. That is until track fourteen comes around! If you do reach the dreamlike state like I did when listening to this album and I still get caught out. Track 14 will certainly wake you up, as the electric guitars really kick in before mellowing out again almost creating a kind of soft opera singing style effect using the synths in track 16. For me it acts as a great closure for the album.

Although divided into 16 tracks, named 'one' through to 'sixteen'. It is in effect one long track called the album title 'Reflex Arc'. With the state of the record industry these days failing to take in to account tracks do last more than 5 minutes, never mind the 65 minutes that this song lasts. If it was released as one track, it would be classed as an EP, which really doesn't feel right, hence why the album was split into different tracks. However in saying that, the tracks do act as good reference points for the album. For example instead of saying "Yeah the bit from 32 minutes to 34 minutes and 21 seconds, the guitar playing is legendary"; you can say "Track six is has got some amazing guitar parts in it".

In this day and age, talent like this is wasted on most people, as they are not willing to give the time or the effort to unlock this gem and appreciate it in its true splendour. I think it is one of those albums that takes a lot of listens to fully appreciate. In saying that, I feel that the album does work on a very simple level as background music too. Although doing it this way is a start to unlocking the album, I think you really need to sit down and listen to it properly to really get into it. To explain this I'll go back to the Greenland analogy I used at the start. Thousands of people every year go over Greenland every year on planes. For those who look out the window, almost everyone I come across looks at the view in awe. People know this kind of place exists and realise this where the true beauty lies, but are too attracted to the more popular/easy to get to destinations which are safe, established holiday locations. They don't see it as a challenge to get to Greenland; in fact most people would not even give it a second thought. The people, who do indeed see it as challenge and actually go, are the ones that in the end get the full reward.

Overall a very satisfying album which I doubt I'll ever be able to unlock fully. But for me it is all about the journey in trying to get there is what this album is really all about.

The Rain Man | 4/5 |


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