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Marc Carlton - Reflex Arc CD (album) cover

REFLEX ARC

Marc Carlton

 

Crossover Prog

3.97 | 10 ratings

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rfriel
4 stars Reflex Arc is one of my favorite albums, and a surprisingly successful use of music for narrative purposes. The sixteen tracks--which are numbered, not titled, emphasizing that they're parts of a whole--bring across a very clear "storyline," with a variety of moods and a wide set of recurring themes and styles. It's something like a film soundtrack, but released from the mundane duty of inflecting individual shots. Instead, the music is its own subject, and each passage depicts an "event" without ties to anything more concrete.

Musically, Reflex Arc has many inspired moments, but more importantly, the larger context gives these moments a sense of purpose. Tracks like "Four," "Ten," and "Thirteen" evoke detailed emotional states, but they aren't mere isolated objects of beauty. Like events in fiction or reality, they influence and contrast what comes after them.

Carlton creates an impressive range of effects with guitar and keyboard. There's often an appealing feeling of musical meritocracy, a willingness to use whatever techniques fit his dramatic intent. At times, the limits of his tools become apparent, though. In an album where the deliberate feel of the notes is important for the effect, some of the more automatic synths are jarring. This is a minor point, though, and it's only relevant to a few tracks.

I'd recommend Reflex Arc to anyone interested in the storytelling potential of music, and anyone looking for some progressive improvisation and artistry.

rfriel | 4/5 |

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