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Arcadium - Breathe Awhile CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.75 | 71 ratings

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4 stars Arcadium came to me this Christmas as an LP reissue by Akarma, noted for both good and bad jobs in terms of sound quality. Thankfully, the Breathe Awhile record is much improved upon in terms of sound for a record that had notoriously bad sound as an original. You also get two bonus tracks on an already long album! Arcadium stand as the only great record released by Middle Earth, led by a Spaniard I assume as his name is Miguel Sergides. He wrote all the tracks and sang lead vocals, also playing an atmospheric 12 string guitar. If you love bands like SRC, early Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, there is no way you will be let down by this awesome record, but Arcadium had a uniquely dark and sinister haunting sound all their own exemplified by vocals that are full of despair and creepy gothic harmonies. The long first track "I'm On My Way" is one of the most intense songs I've ever heard, beginning with eerie sound effects and sparse instrumentation. It goes through many changes, eventually turning into a raving hard psych number with powerful, confident guitar blasts and a total change of mood, tempo, and everything. You wonder if they can keep it up for the whole record, and they do. There is a feeling of despair and anguish throughout the album that can really creep up on you and although the playing is extremely professional there is more than enough room for rough edges and passages of pure mayhem. Arcadium played a pioneering space rock/psychedelic crossover and came in one of the scariest looking sleeves of the whole time period. One thing that must be said about them is that while their music is clearly a product of the late 60s it is hardly a period piece. There are tracks here that sound more contemporary and advanced than any new band around, and there also is more than a little bit of menace and evil that is genuine, not faked like grunge and metal bands. After the brilliant opening track Arcadium's roots in American/British psychedelia and British blues become a little more obvious, but not to the detriment of the album as it stays original. "Birth Life And Death" is another over 10 minute long track that closes the album and is another epic, beginning with an air raid siren and moving into a state of despair and madness that is subtle instead of in your face. If you aren't listening closely you could think this is just the same lyrical theme as "I'm On My Way" only slower, bluesier, more soulful, and with less pyrotechnics. The words to every song on this album are quality, but so are the performances of the band. The only thing to keep this album from a top rating is that it goes on for such a long time that some of the best songs get lost in the overwhelming length of the LP. However, this record belongs in every psych into prog lover's collection and the reissue is the way to go- with two bonus tracks, a huge improvement in sound, and the same creepy sleeve as the original. Arcadium were a band blessed with talent and inventiveness, but they also were a band cursed by being too ahead of their time. With the reissue being fairly recent, now we can enjoy this gem from the great period of the late 60s.
| 4/5 |


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