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Arachnoid - Arachnoid CD (album) cover

ARACHNOID

Arachnoid

 

Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 97 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Dark Symphonic Gem from the Classic Period

Arachnoid's single, self-titled album truly is one of the forgotten gems of the classic prog era. Coming late (1978), the album is a delightful mixture of dark harmony and symphonic beauty that approaches masterpiece level. The sound is a mixture of RPI at its darkest, space rock, and classic King Crimson-y prog. The closest approximation to this band I own is the one-off RPI band Semiramis and Brazil's Bacamarte, though this album is a little less guitar-oriented than either of those. The band members (and vocals) are French, but this is actually an excellent entry point into foreign-sung prog for native English speakers. Given its fairly singular sound, a song-by-song may help give a better picture of the band.

1. Le Chamadere (13:49) The Album begins on a slow crescendo with an echo-ey synth joined by a whirly guitar, instruments coming in bit by bit before the intense male vocals enter. The band's characteristic fuzz guitar comes in around 2:20 for a teaser of the more chaotic parts to come. When it returns, it is in dissonant harmony threatening to capsize the song. The vocals become angry and strident, with a cultish chorus supporting. On close listen the basic melodic theme gets a little repetitive, but there is so much layering that this easily goes unnoticed when taking in the entire piece. The epic never gets over-long and there are enough builds and releases of tension to let the listener breathe.

2. Piano Caveau (7:18) Starting with free spoken word and a clean piano playing alternately tense and beautiful chords, this song implies a lush and pastoral tone before breaking into a polyrhythmic drum pattern and forboding organ. Midway, a multi-layered spooky theme comes in that is one the most memorable of the album.

3. In the Screen Side Of Your Eyes (4:03) This song is the odd man out. It's sung in English, much mellower, with allusions to Genesis (flute, mellotron, quick breaks.) It has some very close similarities to Deep Purple's late classic "This Time Around / Owed to G." The composition seems a little underdeveloped. Not bad but easily the weakest track on the record.

4. Toutes Ces Images (8:04) Now we're back into it!!! After a slow, delicate intro that reminds me of Harmonium, the band produces a midsection that is simply amazing. Dark, heavy, eerie but tuneful and rhythmic, this is dark symphonic at it best. When I think of the album, this is what I remember. Both guitar and keys solo, and though the technical aspects of the playing is relatively straightforward, the texture created is simply breathtaking.

5. La Guepe (8:39) This one starts off with a spacy key pad that sounds like metallic bees buzzing around your head. We then get a clean guitar groove over tense chords and a staccato bass. Much of this song is performed with spoken word lyrics in French, and I'm left a little lost without understanding the story. The music continues in the same vein as has been established throughout the album. Minor chording, quick rhythms, fuzz guitars, plenty of changes in time and mood.

6. L'Adieu Au Pierrot (0:57) A short and relatively sweet reprieve on arpeggiated guitar and synth. Really just a transition piece.

7. Final (3:02) The band decides to let it fly on the last piece. A frenetic piece of minor groove, signature fuzz lines interspersed with distorted synth, all the elements that have defined the album come together in a grand finale.

By the time this album is over, this listener is quite ready to move on to something a little lighter. While the album is brilliant overall, it is just so emotionally heavy that it's hard to give it a masterpiece rating. I finish it dripping and sweaty, ready to fall into a heap, not excited and ready to start it over for another ride. I suppose that may be expected for an album this darkly intense, but the fact remains that there is always a slight bitter taste left after this experience. I still can't nail it down.

As other reviewers have noted, if you want happy and uplifting, run away. If you like spacy, darkly intense symphonic prog, you may never find a better album. That is, this may be as good or better than any KC I've heard. 4+ star album rounded down by the slimmest of margins.

Negoba | 4/5 |

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