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4 stars One-shot French band of 1978. Ange meets KC (mid-period) meets ?UZ. Superb effort!!!!, but very difficult to digest...I would not recommend this to the casual prog listener. Very French at times,even symphonic and in other passages very dark and beautiful not as much as UZ; with layers of keys, and ocassional dissonant drifting......definitively for the open minded progheads, this one in a grower and for me deliver 100%!!!!!
Report this review (#25796)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the best dissonant and experimental works in the vein of King Crimson and with such a typical dramatic and dark romantic mood-often "Ange-oriented"- ever produced in France!! The similarities with a few albums from the "Zehul Music" is evident here, talking about some less harsh aspects of this latter school, but in my opinion it doesn't reach the same inspiration as within for example works like "Eros" by Dun.Nevertheless actually, unlike "Eros","Arachnoid" sometimes is more accessible for whom is not into the most dissonant music passages of this "crimsonian" style, which seldom is pure avant- garde music inside the present album, despite of maintaining a great the end you could also add another half star at least,because this issue dated 1978 is close to the genius of a masterwork!!
Report this review (#25797)
Posted Saturday, August 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars ARACHNOÏD were a short lived 70's band whose debut album marked another excellent example of French dark progressive rock. ARACHNOÏD were obviously heavily influenced by the music of KING CRIMSON as well as that of PULSAR, SHYLOCK and ANGE. The end result is one of my favourite albums from 70's France Prog and IMOH is a masterpiece. Musically this band were excellent with tons of vintage keyboards via the 2 keyboards in the band (Pierre Kuti, Francois Faugieres playing Farfisa organ, mellotron, piano, Fender electric and Korg synths). The vocals are well done and very aggressive and resonate for me in a similar vein to that of ANGE's Christian DeCamps. The clear KING CRIMSON comparison comes totally from their sound and musical transitions which echo with a dark yet symphonic flavours. Lead guitarist Nicolas Popowski also adds his FRIPP -like fret work throughout the album. Overall a fantastic album and one I would suggest any fans of bands like SHYLOCK and PULSAR will definitely love this work. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#25798)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars My favorite album of the french dark prog subgenre. Comparable to the works of Ange, Pulsar, Flamen Dialis, and Shylock, but heavier and darker than any of those in my opinion. Most people don't seem to care for the french/spoken word type lyrics, but I think they work to make the album sounds creepier. The band employs two keyboard players, two guitar players, several different vocalists on each song, and of course a tight rhythm section. The symphonic parts are constantly changing between the two keyboardists, building layers of dark atmosphere atop each other's work. The symphonies come from a mixture mellotron, farfisa, MS 10, Korg Synthesizers, and piano, and dominate most of the album. Some nice spaced out guitar riffs build upon the symphonic atmosphere with some nice fuzzy distortion. The first song, Le Chamadere, is a nearly 14 minute long dark, atmospheric masterpiece that gets the album off to a great start, showing the fullness of the bands abilities. Piano Caveau starts with a nice piano solo, then the mellotron and synthesizers interupt to send the song spinning into darkness, only to return to the same piano solo as at the beginning. Lyrical content varies from song to song, some vocal parts are sung, chanted or read agressively like spoken word. If you can get past the french lyrics anyone who likes dark/symphonic prog will enjoy this little known gem.
Report this review (#70802)
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is it! French prog sound! Dark jazzy-kind of Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Yes. This is art. Nice pianos, flutes, guitars, drums, vocals (at last pure French, like from movies) and sounds - each of those are interesting, and the symphonic compositions are just essential. High and low everywhere, synths and mellotron layers, I can's see why this could be too weird for some people. I'm surprised there's so little listeners for this gem. The music is also progressive enough for me. This is not Italian Symphonic Prog,this isn't Zeuhl, this isn't Psychedelic Rock... this is quite much space symphonic rock. But which is convincing me about Arachnoïd is the darkness of it.
Report this review (#95490)
Posted Monday, October 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a dark, synth laden record from France. This was their one and only release, and it is truly amazing !

The first song "Le Chamadere" is one of the best songs I have ever heard ! Opening with eerie synth notes for about a minute, we are then graced with a guitar melody that is incredible.The melody of this song is great, as are the synth passages. "Piano Caveau" opens with spoken words and piano. As the drums are keeping the beat we are treated to waves of mellotron and bubbling synths. We are graced with more piano as things get quiet.

"In The Screen Side Of Your Eyes" features flute and gentle vocals, and the synths sound great. "Toutes Ces Images" has gentle vocals for about two minutes, then guitar and drums come in creating a beautiful sound, with synths and mellotron making things sound even better. "La Guepe" has such a heavenly sound thanks to the mellotron and synths, sax comes in later, and as words are spoken a driving rhythm greets our ears. Synths dominate the final two songs which isn't too surprising given that there are two keyboardist's.

This is an absolutely amazing release, that is very easy to recommend.

Report this review (#100171)
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Very dark and forboding French synth prog that is like music for a seance or for your kids haunted house on Halloween. Complex rich textures that make this a must for lovers of keyboard albums. If you like generally happy or upbeat melodies you will want to pass on this one even though it is critically acclaimed. As always, the folks at Musea have done an outstanding job and there is a thick and tasty booklet with a history of the band and photos in the CD release. There is also a generous slate of bonus tracks to enjoy.

I don't understand the Shylock comparisons although I can hear some of the Ange and Pulsar ones. Good album even though it's a bit of a downer.

Report this review (#118071)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Arachnoïd's only album is a late addition to the original prog period and threatens to outdo most of what came before - too late to be considered revolutionary but in good standing to be considered the best example of refined symphonic progressive rock.

"Le Chamandere" starts a little coyly, but soon blossoms into a buzzsaw of Ange-tinged guitar and synth fury; any part of the song would be an appropriate leitmotif for a moody anti-hero, as it is both heroic and ugly, disciplined yet hectic. This lengthy song about a word I can't seem to find in my french dictionary is composed of many segments and shifting moods, but it flows correctly - unlike many of their peers, Arachnoïd's songwriting could never be said to be hasty and slapped together, and there are no unnecessarily contrived moments on the album. Considering that it was written in the disjointed era of post-punk, that touch might win it a star just by itself.

"Piano Caveau" is perhaps more unsettling, with a sequence that snatches the root chord away from you immediately, and then suspends you in frosty church organ chords and sudden attacks of strained vocals that fade in and out. All the musicians have a lot of space to impress during this track, and impress they do. "In the Screen Side of Your Eyes" initially feels a little traditional in comparison, as though a troubadour with a taste for King Crimson's early albums had seen fit to write a tribute, but don't distress - there are still surprises in store, and for those still not satisfied, a succession of fragile melodies awaits - at the last, it's another Arachnoïd song rather than the sum of their influences. "Toutes ces Images" follows on more or less immediately (although perhaps not on the LP version - I have a feeling that the split lies between these songs) with a similar feel and consistency but progresses to rock out with plenty of soloing over busy rhythms boosted by solemn choruses. Despite the power of the song, it remains in a minor key throughout and gets downright sinister in places. The piece gets so tempestuous and apocalyptic that only King Crimson's "Fracture" can be comparable in menace and quality. This isn't the longest song, but for me, it is the centrepiece.

Next, we have "Le Guepe" which opens in a fashion not dissimilar to Art Zoyd's flights of doom-laden fancy, before introducing a rather bluesy guitar component. No vocals until you're three minutes in, at which time you're treated to a somewhat muffled conversation. I'm no good with the french language so I might be missing something essential - and that's always a worry with these theatrical progressive outfits - but the tone of the voices do well to amplify the intimidating approach of the music beneath. Oh, and there's that scream.

"L'Adieu au Pierrot" attempts to re-introduce moments of less macabre beauty - the song is thoughtfully composed and not over-orchestrated. Finally, we have the appropriately named "Final" which opens in a manner similar to our contemporary post-sludge bands such as Isis; however, once the song gets going it reveals itself to be another hectic storm based around alternating, vicious solos. It's a great closer with a justifiable amount of bombast. (Bonus tracks come next, but I never review those things, and frankly it's better for the albums score if I don't consider them at all.)

If you like your progressive rock as black as night, alchemically inventive and mostly unsullied by vocals, Arachnoïd won't fail you.

Report this review (#127120)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars During the 70's, France was one of the champions of dark & sombre prog rock, ranging from Magma to Art Zoyd and many more, resulting in Shub Niggurath and Wapassou during the 80's as well. All of these groups stuck fairly closely with modern classical music as one of their main influences, and somehow Arachnoid was not that far away from these groups, even though they weren't nearly as complex as these afore mentioned groups. Actually their kind of dark symphonic music seems like a cross of Crimson, Genesis, Ange, Shylock and others French groups of the moment (but to me no Atoll, Carpe Diem or Pulsar), but traces of Genesis, Magma (some Zeuhl moments) and Dün. Arachnoid came from the Parisian suburbs and the group's life lasted a small decade under one form or another, but only managing one album, but it will remain one of the most legendary (and produced by Phil Desombres >> look up his entry), not least because of the striking hand spider-like artwork. The group uses a double keyboard (a mixture mellotron, Farfisa, MS 10, Korg Synthesizers, and piano), double guitar attack, and has at least four regular lead singers (Nicolas, Patrick, François, Yves and Marc, plus guests), which allowed for much flexibility, including an odd flute in the only English-sung track of the album.

Right from the eerie Moog intro of La Chamadère, you know that you'll plunge into a deep angst-laden trip into the realms of human reason, of reaching treason. This 14-min epic goes through a ton of ambiances, from the gloomy to the lugubrious, but manages to remain soft enough to fascinate throughout its duration. Indeed the vocals (shared by Popowsky, Woindrich and Meryl) and lyrics (often handled by externs to the core of the group) are some of the more characteristic traits (a bit like Ange's vocals definitely alter the rest of their music) of this rather uncanny and slightly awe-striking album. The piano and spoken intro of Piano Caveau (cellar or vault piano) segues into a non-piano (acoustic anyway) lengthy instrumental energetic passage that will last until the piano finale takes over and ends it in a very classical fashion. The English-sung Screen Side is probably the album's weaker moments, but partly because of "surprising" recording sound levels.

Having never seen the vinyl, I'd be hard pressed to know which track was on which side, but there are some definitive Genesis influences in the intro of Toutes Ces lmages. Indeed everything in this track spells a gloomy Genesis, especially the Banks-like mellotron, but slowly metamorphosing into an early Crimson ambiance, reminiscent of Shylock's second (and superb) album. Easily the album's highlight, its Crimsonian constant schizoid mood being breathtaking at times. The following Guèpe (wasp) is circling around your stunned mind for the intro of this wild track that delves into Zeuhl, not like Magma in the vocal delivery, but more like Eskaton (especially if you know their Fiction album), and crazed-out instrumentation often nearing internment in an asylum. The quiet Adieu Au Pierrot and its crazy linked Final are a fitting outro for the original album, again ogling between Crimson and Shylock, with a pitch of VdGG doom thrown in for added spices. Too bad that the sound levels were again defective art recording time.

The Musea re-issue comes with four bonus tracks, one of which would be a real bonus, if it had been better recorded. Somehow closest to La Guèpe, but without the Zeuhl groove, L'Hiver is indeed well in the line of the album's Zoyd nightmarish feel. The following three live tracks are interesting but eventually confusing in their nomenclatures. Indeed if Le Pierrot starts out as L'Adieu Au Pierrot, it lasts a full six times its studio length and gets added some lyrics, while L'Adieu is much reminiscent of the studio Final. Most likely these two live tracks' value is to show how this double-header could/should've evolved. The final bonus track is an alternate take to Caveau Piano, and represent limited interest.

Arachnoid's sole album is definitely a small masterpiece, but certainly not a chef d'oeuvre, but most Schizoidheads should enjoy this reissue tremendously, despite some fairly amateur twists, it cannot deceive you, provided you give it more than a distracted ear the first few times around, because it's a slow grower.

Report this review (#149557)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars French sextet Arachnoid is one of those undisputed nice surprises that prog collectors meet along the way and cherish as a hidden treasure. The band's eponymous only album is a fine example of the gusto for darkness and the sense of drama that are featured trademarks of the French symphonic prog tradition. The theatre factor is very influenced by 71-73 Ange and "Grimaces"-era Mona Lisa, plus a noticeable addition of 73-75 Crimsonian tension and recurrent hints at the heavier side of Pulsar (first two albums). The latter two aforesaid factors are mostly generated from guitarist Nicolas Popowski's deliveries, which usually display traces of anger, fear, density and mystery in a most powerful fashion: his riffs, solos and ornaments are all over the place, many times surpassing the deliveries undertaken by the two keyboardsmen. This is not to say that the keyboards' role is subdued, since the grand piano basic melodies, synth solos, organ/mellotron layers and electric piano jazzy flows are also quite relevant for the compositions' developments. The resulting environment elaborated by all instrumentalists is uneasy and hypnotic, full of darkness, sometimes in the shape of a disturbing fog, other times in the shape of a melancholic shade. There are some occasional heavy passages in which the band seems to lean close to the creepy sort of RIO practiced by Univers Zero, but the main framework is symphonic in pure French style. The lead vocalist is not as protagonist as the frontmen from Ange, Atoll or Mona Lisa, but his singing and recitations really help to fulfill the attempted atmospheres (even if he's not the most proficient member in the band, all things considered). One big advantage that the "Arachnoid" album has regarding the listening experience reserved for the collector is the opening mini-epic 'Le Chamadère', whose 13+ minute span comprises an interesting series of motifs that seem to emulate the usual sequence of a horror movie: apparent tranquility, first big moment of terror, recurrent intensity that lead to the second big moment of terror, a mystery full of varied nuances, one final blow of terror, and ultimately, the closing tranquility that isn't as tranquil as it should be since the terrifying menace seems to have grown into a latent state. The instrumental 'Piano Caveau' (besides a brief recitation) is calmer, with a lovely piano sonata that serves as a brief prologue: the main body spices things up in a sort of refurbishment of old Pulsar within a Carpe Diem- style jazz-friendly framework. The rhythm assumes a more evidently important role for the elaboration and maintenance of the overall mood, which is not entirely devoid of tension and mystery. The softer song in the album is the Engligh-sung 'In the Screen Side of Your Eyes', which includes flute lines provided by a guest musician (Philippe Honore) - it is quite bucolic indeed, excepting a brief interlude in which the pace goes a bit faster. Actually, I would have loved to see this track a bit more developed, since it features an interesting variation in the album's general mood. But that's OK. The next two tracks, 'Toutes Ces Images' and 'La Guêpe', complete the band's main guidelines quite adequately. 'Toutes Ces Images' starts on a very melancholic mood, almost distant, like a troubadour's solitary song in the middle of a dreamy realm; then, for the instrumental development that fills the last 5 minutes, things go gradually wilder, from a pompous manifestation of grayish unrest to a neurotic, sinister display of Crimson-meets-Pulsar. 'La Guêpe' has a more extroverted mood all the way, alternating semi-jazzy grooves with pulsational rocking cadences; the sung part is a real demented circus (a-la Ange's "Cimetière des Arlequins"). This is a very climatic piece, but not the final one - the pairing of 'L'adieu au Pierrot' and 'Final' sets a reiteration of the two preceding tracks' moods. The bonus tracks don't have the benefits of a good audio production, but they manage to reveal how genuinely energetic the band was on stage. Even the musical concepts of 'L'adieu au Pierrot' and 'Final' are more elaborated. This is a great symphonic rock item that should grace any good prog collection - the two Arachnoids, band and album, deserve the high praise gathered in all progressive e-zines.
Report this review (#187446)
Posted Thursday, October 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Arachnoid is an aptly named band; their spidery music creeps and crawls through dark dilapidated corridors in a haunted house... there is a Fellini-film quality to their nightmarish compositions.

This was one of the very best bands of the 70's French Symphonic Prog movement, and sadly they have remained quite obscure... perhaps a result of the melodramatic 'French theatrical' vocal style (that started with Ange) and so many bands from that country seem to share. This band is every bit as good as Ange... if not better.

The first song (Le Chamadere) is the gargantuan chef-d'oeuvre of this self-titled album... it is epic, masterful, and overflowing with ominous esoteric mysticism. There are many different themes and moods explored... each one highly engaging and fascinating. Lead singer Marc Meryl possesses a furious and sometimes frightening vocal delivery: alternating between hoarse screams and ghostly whispers... he has an excellent singing voice on the melodic sections as well.

'La Guepe' is another highlight... a song full of terrifying chants and voices-in-the-head insanity. This is the sound of going mad put to tape.

The music is composed largely of densely layered synthesizers from the band's two keyboardists; the songs are melodic and have a heavy atmosphere of gloom and experimental strangeness. The band often play with a raw hard edge and the rhythm section deliver a tight bludgeoning performance throughout.

There are many softer sections, but they still contain an air of arcane darkness and foreboding. Every song is captivating and the album has a great flow from track-to-track... it holds your interest for the whole duration.

I strongly recommend Arachnoid to all fans of 'French Theatrical Prog', and anyone into the darker side of Symphonic Prog.

4.5 stars

Report this review (#203946)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Arachnoïd is the debut and sole full-length studio album by French symphonic prog rock act Arachnoïd. The album was originally released in 1978 but has since been re-released on CD by Musea Records with 4 bonus tracks.

The music is dark and sombre symphonic prog rock. Lots of mellotron, piano, organ and synths create the atmosphere in the music. There´s some really good guitar parts here too and a bit of flute as well. The music is mostly instrumental but there are occasional French language vocals and speaking. Most people tend to think that the vocals are weak but I must say that I enjoy them. They are not outstanding but suit the music well. Comparisons can be made to bands like King Crimson, Genesis ( in their darkest hour), Anekdoten, Areknamés and I also hear a bit of Goblin here because of the sometimes eerie horror atmosphere on the album. The seven original tracks are the highlights on the album so take the bonus tracks as a free gift.

The musicianship is excellent. Fans of the sound of multible keyboard players should find this album very interesting as there is so much going on at the same time here. Really fashinating. The rythm section is also very strong and powerful.

The production is warm and pleasant yet with the more edgy end-seventies sound pushing on.

This is one of those forgotten gems that progressive rock fans are always on the look-out for. An excellent dark symphonic prog rock album and a welcome addition to my collection. It´s really too bad Arachnoïd only released this sole album but I guess the climate for progressive rock in 1978 wasn´t really that warm anymore. A deserved 4 star rating and a big recommendation from me.

Report this review (#210984)
Posted Saturday, April 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Unlike most French progressive acts from the 1970s, Arachnoid didn't rely too heavily on fiery instrumentation and overly theatrical vocals. Rather, the band builds up several layers of tension and brooding through harmonized guitar and keyboard lines. The music never rests too comfortably, but neither does it tire the ears.

Tracks such as the opener "Le Chamadere" develop more as a slow burn, but always with an atmospheric edge. The production may not be stellar, but it doesn't detract to any major degree. In fact, it probably adds to the somewhat raw feel found throughout the album.

There will be ineveitable comparisons to King Crimson since the band is A) French and B) dark, but I also hear a mix of Twelfth Night (particularly "Live at the Target") and to a certain degree, Joy Division (who were in action at the same time as this release). The addition of bonus live tracks are a nice touch and make this album well worth checking out.

Report this review (#245836)
Posted Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#269878)
Posted Friday, March 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A one-shot wonder

Like some unhinged tarantula, this French legend exudes a dreaded horror from their prog pores, deeply despairing and obliquely obscure, searing towards the basements cells where the real kooks are restrained. The mood is gruesome and electric, the flair for the dramatic and theatral firmly ensconced in the ensemble playing, woven with intricate sonic patterns and fanatical French vocals from Marc Meryl. The whopping 13 minute + "La Chamadère" is a tortuous torrent of fizzing sound and voiced fury, the drums and bass foraging wildly in a near zeuhl fashion (read = brooding and intense) that underline the slight Magma influence, infused with heady doses of compatriots Ange and Shylock as well, blended craftily with a rather obvious KC tinge (period circa Poseidon, Islands and Lizard). The dual keyboard line-up does not always transcend itself in genius but here Francois Faugieres' modified Farfisa organ (a real treat) and the mellotron rage brightly, while Pierre Kuti's piano, e-piano and synths seduce the prog listener lustily, exalted further by a spraying Frippoid rant from Nicholas Popowski and thus creating an unending ushering into the unknown and the unexpected. The highly cinematographic "Piano Caveau" offers piano and distantly serene French poetry, a magnificent ivory interlude that only enhances the experimental nature of this talented lot. The arrangement gets quickly quirky and shovels some heavy grooves into the fire, with the various keys spicing things up and the frenetic guitar raging alongside. When the elegant piano returns to finish the piece off, the bliss has finally arrived. The short "In the Screen Side of Your Eyes" is a gentler yet still intricate breed, with subtle playing from all the instrumentalists, a fluttering flute sugaring the proceedings very adroitly. "Toutes ces Images" is at first wispy and fragile perhaps even dreamier then expected , a swelling intro that morphs into a definitely bruising foray , the raunchy guitar slicing and slashing through the thick atmospherics , adding some spooky element to the brew. There is a subcutaneous sense of paranoia in their musical style, a decidedly strong Kafka/De Maupassant psychosis that gives the music a certain razor sharp edge that will not vanish. Popowski's original axe rant is spacey and extreme, unhinged and abrasive. "La Guêpe" (the wasp) is my choice track here , an 8 minute mini- opera with multiple vocalists and sections that simply mesmerize, the bass sweeping along and the drums marshalling the beat, while the keys decorate the horizon and the synths bubble with authority, in a "très jazz" mode , assorted spoken voices evolve into some frenzied vocal hurlings that would make Christian Décamps proud, highly theatric and overwrought but we are dealing with Molière here , not Shakespeare and the delirium is apparent in the "march of the metallic insects" invading the speakers. Grisly thoughts are then dissuaded by some old school guitar-driven hard psychedelia that is simply adorable. This is a tremendous slice of oblique prog that will sear your brain, totally wild and free. A short synthy minute goes by before the fitting "Final" enters the décor, flush with insane noodlings, bizarre rhythms verging on dissonance and a eerie aura that is hard to dismiss , very far removed from conventional symphonic, neo, space or electronic prog. My copy comes with 4 bonus tracks, the first 3 live pieces that maintain this schizoid impression in a concert setting and an instrumental rework of the "Piano Caveau" . This disc while not perfect has an undeniable originality and a precious veneer that was recorded at a time when the prog star had been on the decline and yet survived until recently receiving relative cult status among aficionados . One thing is for sure, if you collect French prog or bizarre records, Arachnoid will crawl under your skin . 4.5 French webs

Report this review (#271393)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A fairly ordinary Zeul / Prog album with some definite highlights followed by many lowlights. Fans of Univers Zero will really like this, guaranteed.

It's quite like 'King Crimson' in parts with lots of stops and starts and moments of silence. About 60 percent of "Arachnoid' is instrumental.

Not nearly as dark and heavy as Magma on who's genre they decided to infiltrate, but it's still quite good.

Just too normal to strike fear into the hearts of us Zeuhl people. This may be a bit unfair, as 'Arachnoid' is actually ok. It scrapes three stars by the skin of its teeth.

I must admit, I do like the sleeve which reminds me of the time I punched a pile of paper instead of a customer at my work in a printing factory, breaking my knuckles.

Stupid boy!

Report this review (#303132)
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A lot of great prog albums come from France and this is one of them. Their self-titled only album from 1978. This music on this album is similar to both the theatrical rock of Ange and the darker, mysterious vibe of Art Zoyd. This band features two keyboardists, which is usually a good thing in my book(but not always). None of the vocals or individual instruments really stand out on their own. I feel this benefits the music; the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts kinda thing. This is under 'Symphonic Prog' here on PA, but I think it would be of interest to those who like artists in Eclectic and RIO/Avant as well.

The beginning of the album starts with a very brief but strange annoying buzz sound. Unless the CD I listened to had a defect. If that was done on purpose, then it was interesting but ultimately unnecessary. "Le Chamadere" is the longest and best song on the album. Some eerie synth sounds that gets more jazzy before chorused guitar comes in. Then bass, drums and more synth. Vocals in French. Later some fuzzy guitars. Drums drop out then you hear a child's voice. After some angry vocals and chanting. Then great wah- bass and military style drumming. Some whispering. Music stops and more whispering before music comes back.

The music changes halfway through the song to a more symphonic part. Synth makes bird- like noises. Later hi-hat and fuzzy guitar with some electric piano. A synth solo before tempo changes with military drumming. Near the end it gets more symphonic with talking. Ends with weird synth noises. "Piano Caveau" begins with talking and piano. Later drums, bass and what sounds like organ. There is also a unique sounding percussion instrument that I'm not sure what it's called. After some phased synth which sounds like vocoder. Then a wah guitar solo. More phased synth or vocoder. Back to just piano.

"In The Screen Side Of Your Eyes" has lyrics in English. It starts off a fairly straight forward ballad with some flute. A more energenic section before it goes symphonic rock. More flute. "Toutes Ces Images" starts with what sounds like the last song played backwards. French vocals are back. Easy going before fuzzy guitars and drums come in. The drumming in this song is really good. A synth solo. Music calms down again and goes into a symphonic part. The song gets louder and more intense before it ends.

"La Guepe" goes into a jazzy part before some good drumming. Another jazzy section with strummed guitar and a synth solo. Some people talking, then laughing and theatrical singing. You hear what sounds like "meta-leak" over and over. Tempo gets faster then another synth solo. Then guitar solo. Music calms down then picks up with "huh" vocals and another synth solo. "Final" starts with drum roll. The bass sounds really good in this song. Basically just synth and guitar solos.

This is one of the better prog albums from 1978. The bonus songs on the CD have bad sound quality and are generally nothing special. Overall, great French prog. 4 stars.

Report this review (#346451)
Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Arachnoid is a 1978 anachronism, an album that was definitely not well-adapted to its time, but nevertheless it's a remarkably solid one, probably one of the best classic Prog albums from the end of the 70's, with an eclectic style reminiscent of the symphonic dramatics of Ange and the dark and chromatic chord progressions of King Crimson. It also has a slightly spacey approach to the keyboard playing, which are much more upfront then the guitars, but even for a "keyboards-in-rock-skeptic" like myself the result is entirely pleasing.

Everything holds together very well, the compositions are lively and dynamic, and there's no soloist detracting the attention from the essence. All performers play very fluently and intuitively, with a nice organic and very rocking sound. In other words, an album with an edge. Recommended for fans of prog hybrids with elements from Symphonic Prog as well as Avant and Space-rock. The band called it quits after this album. Had they released this 5 years earlier the future might have looked a lot brighter for them!

PS. If you want to check a more modern French album with a similar vibe, I'd recommend Nil's "Nil Novo Sub Sole"

Report this review (#438736)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars France's eclectic progressive rock scene produced a handful of impressive groups during the 1970s, the likes of Pulsar, Atoll, Ange and Magma each cooking up of their own distinctive brew of Gallic art-rock to usually excellent effect. However, whilst those groups managed to cultivate long(ish) careers and loyal fan-bases, the little-known collective Arachnoid were one of the many who belong that large club of groups who made just one album before disappearing into rock 'n' roll obscurity. A difficult, arty, overly-complex affair, Arachnoid's addition to the prog canon is a typically European concoction, both heavy on atmosphere and intricate wordplay yet light on melodic hooks and fist-pumping riffs. Ignored during their prime, Arachnoid are just one of the thousands of European acts who have gained from the creation of the French label Musea, an imprint designed to house groups as un-commercial as these. As a result, the group's one-and-only release is now regarded as an important part of the French scene, though just why it is remains(to this reviewer at least) a bit of a mystery. Unlike, say, 'Halloween' by Pulsar or Ange's first two abums, this high-brow courting collection lacks any real punch, proving a decidedly impenetrable and tedious listen. Certain tracks, such as the gothic opener 'Le Chamadere' occasionally flex the group's instrumental muscles, yet all too often the slow pace and overly fussy arrangements merely frustrate. This is deliberately obtuse prog-rock featuring the very essence of why so many people find the genre pompous and unfathomable, whilst also showcasing exactly why many European acts struggle to find any kind of audience outside of their homelands. Yes, there's talent behind 'Arachnoid', and yes, the album does suffer from poor production values, yet plenty of groups have overcome these barriers to create complex and accessible music. A fundamentally flawed release, this is one of those overly-praised items that has remained obscure for a very good reason.


Report this review (#654186)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I finally got me a copy of this album, an original LP on Divox, no less! I've been aware of this group for many years, probably since about 2000. This French group put out their one and only album in 1979, but the original LP is extremely hard to find, and it's been said only 300 copies were made. Hans Pokora, who published a series of Record Collector Dreams books gives a one to six disc rating to all titles listed, one disc meaning a rare LP that's really not impossible to find, and you might be lucky to find it at a reasonable price, to six disc which are so rare that you likely don't own a copy (usually LPs that rare are test pressings, acetates, or very limited amount of pressings, maybe 50 or so copies). The Arachnoid LP is given three discs from Pokora, on the same league as Museo Rosenbach's Zarathustra, Jose Cid's 10.000 Anos Depois Entre Venus E Marte, L'Uovo di Colombo's only album, Jumbo's DNA, and so on (I have no LPs in my collection Pokora rated higher than three, which means image finding LPs rated higher!). But years later Musea reissued the Arachnoid album, and for good reason, to let more progheads get the chance to hear this without having to bend over backwards trying to find an original LP. For some reason, there seems to be that certain characteristic common within French prog. Like theatrical vocals, angular King Crimson-type guitar riffing, spacy synthesizers, and odd sounding phased organs. Arachnoid has been frequently compared with the likes of Ange, Pulsar, Shylock, and King Crimson, which sounds about right. It's strange how several of these French albums I've heard feature that same fuzz lead guitar Gilbert Gandil used in Pulsar, like this group, as well as Archaia. This album also has some nice use of Mellotron. Synths appear to be a Korg, as it definitely does not sound like MiniMoog or an ARP Odyssey. Although there are vocals, they don't dominate, although there's one passage where the vocalist starts screaming. This is the kind of prog that would cause the regular Huey Lewis & the News (or any other such similar ultra-mainstream pop/rock act) fan running and screaming for the hills. I am not too surprised this was Arachnoid's only album, given it was released in 1979, when there was a declining interest in prog by the public, not to mention the limited amount of copies pressed of the album meant it was obscure right from the start (if Arachnoid recorded a few years earlier, they might have had a bigger label backing them up and a probable chance of recording more than one album). For all the years I've heard great stuff about this band, well they are right! One of the best prog albums I've heard from 1979, and is essential.

By the way, since I own the original LP, just to let everyone know, the mix differs from the reissue on Musea. The opening cut, for example, around the part where you hear a little girl speak something in French and those synths kick in, on the original Divox LP, you hear these "Ahhhh" choruses in the background. The Musea version omits those "Ahs" and replaces them with some sort of organ or harmonium. It's luckily not as drastically altered as Neuschwanstein's Battlement, but enough to warrant seeking out the original LP (if you can find and afford a copy, that is).

Report this review (#1058934)
Posted Saturday, October 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars A strange freaky album by a band that released this one sole album and then disappeared into the nether world. A highly addictive symphonic take on the darkness of Univers Zero mixed with zeuhl and influences from King Crimson and the spaciness of Pink Floyd, it's one of those albums that you can hear influences but the sum of the parts results in a sound that reminds you of none other partly because of the multiple keyboards in use and the eerily spooky symphonic effects that would surely be appropriate for haunted houses!

Mostly instrumental but some French vocals similar to Christian Decamps from Ange do pop up occasionally. This album is predominantly about keyboards whether it be symphonic or dark and sinister sounding piano runs but there are also some good guitars. Very interesting and unique and demands several listens for it to sink in. The tracks are long and take their time to fully play out. I have the CD with bonus tracks and they are well worth having. It says on my CD and the band's website that this was released in 1978.

Report this review (#1086542)
Posted Friday, December 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars More tentative, reserved and creeping than most symphonic prog, Arachnoid melt down and break up the symphonic idiom into a more oppressive, suggestive and spacey world of their own.

Focusing on dynamics and obtuse atmosphere-driven instrumental passages, regardless if they are more rocking or ethereal, it has a fairly unique, vocal-sparse sound and a vigorous hybrid identity that is instantly recognizable. You will find some attention-grabbing outbursts of angular and buzzing guitar and full-on symphonic assault, but that's not really what it's about. It is rarely pretty, the sounds coming together in swirling, wavering and rumbling madness, but maintaining a rather strong melodic integrity. Often, the tossing and turning liveliness takes place in a cocoon of thick, bleak and sticky atmosphere that manages to be very intense and commanding while only hanging on to reality by a tread. It feels pleasingly confused and unstable in how it all comes together, without ever really disintegrating. That balance act might just be the best thing about the album, making it feel very much alive and pleasingly surprising in a twisted organic fashion. Occasionally there is a smidgen or two of dark lite-fusion and cold, snarling and wheezing avant tendencies that sets it apart from the symphonic mainstream and nudge the album further into wonderful asylum territory.

You will often find a bubbling concoction of keyboards and guitar that simmer like hot black oil beneath the compositions, often enough with a feeling of rapidly impending doom. Shape-shifting keyboards whirl and hover alongside a similarly busy but indefinable guitar. Lucent electric piano notes and chords come and go like bright spots here and there, enriching as well as undermining the whole harmonic and melodic structure of the pieces. A discordant, fuzzed-up guitar riff or some naked and idiosyncratic picking get working on making the experience a bit more physical and edgy and things then build upon that via involved, but very disciplined and somewhat low-key percussion. Fire-and-brimstone keyboard attacks come and go, at times bouncing a contrasting and rather beautiful melody against unforgiving guitar onslaught. Their main focus can just as easily be to stir up trouble in spacey insanity. At times the mist lifts, revealing some beautiful and sombre rollicking piano or even a bit of flute and more gentle and forgiving guitars and keys, but that's more of an exception than a rule, being just shorter interludes in the menacing whole. They rarely let go of the reins completely, focusing on generating a disciplined chaos with a keen sense of dynamics, letting the compositions develop in a cleverly and nicely dysfunctional way.

A thoroughly good album, but a few lows and the scarcity of proper highs in the generally high-class and genuinely exquisite atmosphere keeps it from achieving greatness. Should be a very welcome addition in any collection that prefers symphonic prog as something dirtied up, twisted and dark.

4 stars.


Report this review (#1155766)
Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Arachnoid came from the suburbs of Paris, a band which only earned some cult status over the years, struggling to find stability due to series of line-up changes, financial limitations and a slow development.They started in 1967 as the duo of Patrick Woindrich (bass, guitar, vocals) and Michel Pilot (guitar), evolving through the years to a Prog Rock band and adding members to the line-up.One proof of their slow development was the fact they hit the stage only in 1975, at a time when Pilot had quit due to lack of time.Woindrich then gathered a new line-up with Francois Faugieres (already a member since 1972) and Pierre Kuti on keyboards, Nicolas Popowski on guitar/vocals, Marc Meryl on vocals and Bernard Minig on drums, the band recorded an album in late-70's, released only on the newly established Divox label in 1979, an organization searching for new groups for its roster.

Arachnoid played a mysterious, very French-sounding and pretty unique Progressive Rock, which had its roots in Classical Music, but borrowed elements from a wide spectrum of tastes, only to showcase that this group was experienced enough and had a pretty long career, before launching this record, as their debut not only contains the early spirit of French Prog Rock but was flavored by jazzy, psychedelic and even some light Zeuhl moves.I can only compare them to ACINTYA in terms of originality and a heavy keyboard-led sound, although the two bands are far from similar.Arachnoid created muti-themed lengthy tracks with irritating vocals, slow moving guitars, Classical orientations performed on synthesizer and organ but also some strong jazzy passages with soft electric guitar and electric piano, revisiting the dark vibes of KING CRIMSON pretty often, producing some theatrical branches with narrations and keyboard experiments and somewhat getting lost in a labyrinth of complex ideas and poetry.There are even some evident links to PULSAR and CATHARSIS throughout the listening, featuring haunting spacious themes and obscure psychedelic acoustics, the album is far from consistent, but the band managed to produced some serious intensity and sinister atmospheres through these diverse influences.Actually I find myself struggling to catch up with all these mood variations, going from romantic lyrics and acoustics to a progressive mysticism with full-blown intstrumental interactions in a doomy execution, based on long keyboard plays and irritating electric guitars.

Of course Divox was not the right choice for a heavy promotion, but apparently the band found only closed doors when dealing with other labels.After some further line-up shakes Arachnoid became Color in 1980, sweetening their sound to more simplistic Rock formats, recording also an alnum, which was never released.Marc Meryl passed away in 1987 and Francois Faugieres died a few years later, battling for some time with a disease after getting wounded in a trip to Brazil.

Extremely serious progressive music with a dark and muddy sound and links to the more atmospheric French Prog bands like Carpe Diem, Shylock and Acintya.Not an everyday listening, but trully imaginative, psychedelic and instrumentally captivating.Recommended.

Report this review (#1386429)
Posted Monday, March 23, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars This late-1970s self-titled release from Parisian unit Arachnoid finds the band walking a spidersilk-thin tightrope, on the one hand juggling dark zeuhl and avant-prog influences whilst the other crafts the music into a more accessible (but no less ambitious) tapestry of symphonic space rock. You have the hypnotic chants and intonations of zeuhl combining with cosmic overtones that, whilst not absent from the zeuhl playbook, feels much more in line with the work of symphonic French bands like Pulsar or Ange, all taking place under a shroud of darkness that could have come from the deepest depths of Van der Graaf Generator. Wild, daunting stuff.
Report this review (#1728323)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars A quite experimental effort that draws inspiration from avantgarde, King Crimsonique 70's dark prog rock and vocal theatricity of Ange and original ingredients that I could not attribute to other bands or artists.

Rhythm section with bass guitar and drums sound well and it is the guitar and keyboard textures in the background that offer remote comparison to King Crimson.

French language is much more convincing than English in one song.

I like most instrumental parts with aggressive guitar and subtle keyboards such as the second part of "Le Chamadere".

"Piano Caveau" has logically much binding to a solo piano and is very different from the first song but turns into an irregular perfectly gloomy pattern with bass-guitar solo and ominous

percussions. Organ mixed with synth having a sound of digital piano offer a nice sound mixture. Not sure if it is a Melotron but more like an organ in the background.

"In the screen side of your eyes" sounds like a balland in the beginning before turning into a speedy and Crimsonisque organ. Noteworthy is flute enrichment.

"Toutes ces images" has a Genesis guitar in it and evolves into a jazzy Canterbury fury in the end.

"La guepe" combines nice instrumental passages with edge-sounding vocal experimentation.

"Final" is a breathtaking intensive progressive rock workout sounding so much French (compare to Shylock).

For the brave experimentation and solid musicianship, this album deserves 4 stars.

Report this review (#2247682)
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2019 | Review Permalink

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