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SPLEEN ARCANA

Crossover Prog • France


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Spleen Arcana biography
SPLEEN ARCANA is born from the ashes of past musical projects led by Julien Gaullier, a self taught multi-instrumentalist from France who composes music at home since 1994.

Inspired by vintage progressive rock and musical heroes like MARILLION, ANATHEMA, RADIOHEAD or MIKE OLDFIELD, Julien decides some years ago to release a first album on his own, playing any instruments he could get his hands on and starting to record every note he wrote with the equipment he found around him. Helped later by David Perron on the drums and Marie Guillaumet for additionnal vocals.

Years passed, songs evolved, sound changed, some equipment even broke. The result of this chaotic musical adventure, called ''The Field Where She Died'', is a raw but sincere first album coming from a long passionate process.

Taken from http://www.spleenarcana.com/about/

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Field Where She DiedField Where She Died
CD Baby 2009
Audio CD$9.93
$18.50 (used)
The Light Beyond The ShadesThe Light Beyond The Shades
Audio CD$13.79
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SPLEEN ARCANA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 22 ratings
The Field Where She Died
2009
3.82 | 70 ratings
The Light Beyond The Shades
2014

SPLEEN ARCANA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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SPLEEN ARCANA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
The Platypus
2009
4.00 | 2 ratings
Erin Shores (Part One)
2013

SPLEEN ARCANA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Light Beyond The Shades by SPLEEN ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.82 | 70 ratings

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The Light Beyond The Shades
Spleen Arcana Crossover Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

5 stars Spleen Arcana is a one-man French band in which Julien Gaullier is responsible for all of the instruments, compositions, vocals and technical details, the only exception is the drums recorded by David Perron. The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) is an album that took around four years to be completed for Julien recorded everything on his own calmly at his home studio in Paris.

I got to know the band back in 2009 when Julien himself got in touch with me asking if I would like to review his first album, The Field Where She Died (2008). At that time despite seeing that the project had quality I thought that something was missing in Julien's music, perhaps a greater identity to it. Well, in The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) he got that!

For fans that follow Spleen Arcana two of the three tracks on the new album are not that new, despite the fact that they have new outfits in the new album they were available before through the band's Bandcamp page as singles around 2 years ago. But, as I mentioned, for the new album they were re-worked and can be considered new. The tracks are 'Erin Shores' and 'Fading Away'.

The opening track, 'Erin Shores' starts where the last track of The Field Where She Died (2008) ? 'A Kind Of Heaven' ? ends and shows Julien's passion for Scottish folkloric music. Julien's vocals are calm, serene and gentle, however his music not always follows this path, especially in the instrumental moments. Listening to this opening track is quite obvious that Julien is a big fan of the classical period of Prog, the 70's, however Spleen Arcana's music sounds fresh and new. This fact is even more noticeable in the second track 'Fading Away' where his wife Marie Guillaumet helps him with backing vocals (like on his first album). Julien is a great instrumentalist now, and one can see his growth from his first album, he does well both in the bass and in the electric and acoustic guitars. Keyboards are also present, but in a discrete way most of the time. The instrumental section on this second track is simply superb, at the same time Julien was able to write something that is worthy of the great 70's Prog bands but with a freshness rarely present in the new bands. I must also say that David Perron's works in the drums are great on this track.

But to be honest, the surprise of The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) is the third and final track 'Memento Mori', an epic of 24 minutes. 'Memento Mori' is a perfect example of the classic Prog Rock format in the 70's and the new Prog Rock made in the last ten years or so. Julien shows us that it is possible to mix both and that they match perfectly. Moreover, he shows us that you don't need to be trendy and super hyped to be a good Prog band nowadays. My only complaint is the vocal parts. Though I recognize that Julien improved a lot since his first album in this matter I think that the vocals on his new album are much alike, however I don't think this downgrades his work much, and the sounds you'll find in The Light Beyond The Shadows (2014) are so rich that honestly you'll find a great number of details for you to hook on.

Plenty of times when I start to write a review I ask myself if there's a way of sounding like the Classic Prog that we love but at the same time bring something new to the table. Most of the time I disappoint myself with new bands because of that. I believe that Spleen Arcana is my answer to that question! The album shows Julien with loads of Classic bands influence such as Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd and King Crimson but at the same time he's listening to the new bands like Porcupine Tree as well. You can be sure that this five years waiting was worth it.

If you're one of those listeners that love the 70's and grew up listening to those but also like to know what's going on right now The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) is your album, you can buy it with no fear. On top of that I think this is a great format for an album: 3 tracks in 46 minutes.

I just hope that Julien will not take another five years to release a new album, but if that happens and if he can top The Light Beyond The Shades (2014), I don't mind waiting!

4,5 stars

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

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 The Field Where She Died by SPLEEN ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.26 | 22 ratings

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The Field Where She Died
Spleen Arcana Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A project set up in 2006 by French multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Julien Gaullier.He had been part of several small bands in the past and had been composing music since 1994.His experiences led him to form this one-man outfit and in 2008 he released his first solo work with the epic title ''The field where she died'', helped by David Perron on drums and Marie Guillaumet on female vocas.The following year the same album was eventually released also on CD as an independent effort with a great artwork designed by Polish artist Malgorzata Maj.

''The field where she died'' is the result of some 5 years of recordings with tracks dating as back as 1999, when Gaullier performed them as a member of his old groups.After some reworkings he presented his tasteful influences in an album, that draws influences from old-school Symphonic Prog and modern, fiery Heavy Prog in a total sum of five long pieces.This is definitely a grower, a work that develops its inner power with every new spin, as the arrangements are worked in every detail, bursting symphonic elements, powerful grooves, epic orchestrations and lyrical tension.Very good material, which is basically structured around the numerous tempo changes and changing climates, starting from mascular, heavy overtones with dynamic riffing and bombastic rhythms and ending up in orchestral sections and dreamy soundscapes.While the album has most in common with the contemporary Prog scene, Gaullier often displays his love for Classic 70's Prog, adding often some interesting Mellotron colors in his ideas.The rest of the keyboard textures are mostly performed on soaring synthesizers and peaceful piano themes, moreover the use of synths adds sometimes a distinct spacey mood and even a cinematic flavor to Gaullier's compositions.Great song-development, impressive production and expressive, passionate vocals complete a well-crafted and energetic album.

Very interesting work for all fans of modern Progressive Rock, who don't mind a vintage aura in their menu.Diverse, technically competent and bombastic music, no less than strong..3.5 stars.

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 The Field Where She Died by SPLEEN ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.26 | 22 ratings

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The Field Where She Died
Spleen Arcana Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Melancholic throughout, Spleen Arcana's debut provides a dark portrait of music that is somehow inviting and coldly pleasant. At times, the anguish and despondency are exaggerated, never to ludicrousness, but exaggerated nonetheless. Musically, there is so much to revel in, from excellent electric guitar passages to more reserved keyboard business. The vocals are plentiful but definitely not the star, and yet they seem to fit smoothly with the rest of the album. All said, The Field Where She Died is at once gritty and satisfying; I suspect most will find something to love with this one.

"Trample on Me" Stark piano opens the album with a sad theme. It takes on an even darker visage, with distorted guitars, spiraling Mellotron, and hushed vocals. Midway through, the piece adopts a steady rhythm with distant percussion, reminding me of Blue Oyster Cult vocally. The finale of a guitar solo is at once restrained and melodic, quite mindful of the overall mood and still entertaining.

"The Missing Piece" Acoustic guitar, piano, bass, and dismal vocals make this seem like a long lost Pink Floyd recording, yet the Mellotron, lead guitar, and backing vocals give it a life of its own.

"A Picture of Two Lovers in the Mist" This piece shifts from dark textures to more uplifting and simplistic structures. Things become malicious, especially vocally, right before giving way to a more intense section lead by a trembling electric guitar. In a subtle way, the vocals sound like those of Peter Hammill- strange indeed. A gentle acoustic guitar passage, something closer to U2, closes the piece.

"Tears are Made to Flow" More mainstream than anything else on the album (with perhaps the exception of "The Missing Piece"), I hear this as a combination of Pink Floyd, U2, and Van der Graaf Generator, if such a thing can be imagined. During the final three minutes, the music changes shape, but retains its overall sound, while adding a few rather good guitar solos.

"A Kind of Heaven" Spleen Arcana takes a more symphonic approach to the final piece, which is laced with synthesizer lead and has a bed of Mellotron on which the angst-ridden vocals lie. Another outstanding element is the bass-playing, which has its own presence throughout. The lengthy guitar solo is at times inappropriate, but finds its way back into the overall context of the music soon enough each time it strays. As it had done many times in the past, the arrangement incorporates a more meditative acoustic section, complete with more acceptable electric guitar excursions.

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 The Field Where She Died by SPLEEN ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.26 | 22 ratings

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The Field Where She Died
Spleen Arcana Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars At times pretty interesting debut from this French artist.

An updated brand of symphonic progressive rock of the vintage variety is what we're served on this excursion. On one hand gentle passages with acoustic guitars, piano and keys of various kinds are served; but contrasting these highly vintage segments passages where more modern elements from prog metal are added to the mix. For these latter parts of the album the symphonic prog fan will probably be relieved to know that these elements are toned down though; you can hear where it's coming from but it doesn't drag this album anywhere near metal territories.

This artist has stories to tell, which is where I kind of lose interest a bit on this production. The vocal segments are numerous, and as I don't immerse myself in the lyrics but rather the music these bountiful passages with vocals failed to catch my interest. They are nice enough, but doesn't come across as anything out of the ordinary for me.

Those with a passion for lyrics should take a note of this one though - if you love symphonic prog and truly enjoy listening to music while having the lyrics sheet in your hand this is an album calling out to you.

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 The Field Where She Died by SPLEEN ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.26 | 22 ratings

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The Field Where She Died
Spleen Arcana Crossover Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars French musician Julien Gaullier, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, pulls off an impressive achievement with his first album The Field Where She Dies. Having written the material over several years, he recorded the music, singing and playing all the various instruments except for the drums which are played by David Peron and there are addition vocals sung by Marie Guillaumet.

Though I like the music here for the most part there is one major draw back here for me. That is Julien's voice. I find that his vocals do a disservice to his music. He's not exactly singing, but not narrating or anything of that sort. But to me they sound flat and somewhat bland and not adequate to the music except in several places (the chorus of Trample On Me for instance and the short growl-like segment on A Picture Of Two Lovers In The Mist). This music requires a more versatile singer, with a wider range, but mainly in a low pitch. I would also have made much more use of Marie's backing vocals. The best use is on the last track but is not as prevalent on the other songs.

On to the music: Dark and even aggressive with the harsh guitar riffs, this reminds of music from bands like Anathema (Alternative 4 era) while incorporating intricate compositional structures and a vast array of sounds and instruments. A song like Trample On Me presents a wide range of emotions and styles in it, showcasing Julien's vast influences. You have a dark opening which culminates in a bombastic forceful opening lead by poignant guitar riffs. The chorus has a very good use of keyboards and voice-like sound produced which I find very effective and appealing. Later in the song, there is a shift to a quieter and slower part, which would have been better sounding had more keyboards been used, but still, is very effective; in particular the guitar solo. All in all, this is a remarkable song, which is very well performed and arranged; my favourite song in the album.

The missing piece is an acoustic and quiet piece for the most part, but again the problem here for me is Julien's voice. It just doesn't reach the emotional peaks this requires and they sound somewhat bland. As backing vocals they are fine, but not as lead vocals. The music itself is beautiful, with great keyboards work. I particularly like the part where the rhythm picks up pace and there is overdubbing of vocal lines. It should have been longer though and developed more and not ended so early on.

A Picture Of Two Lovers In The Mist starts with effects and piano-sounding keyboards, creating a somber effect, as if something bad is about to happen. This tension filling segment goes on for two minutes until the vocals come in and the acoustic guitar take up with the percussions backing up. Again, the vocals just do not sound good to me and I wish he would have found someone else to perform them. It ruins part of the experience for me. The tension then passes and gives away to a more optimistic sounding mood that occasionally goes back to its darker sides. With this song I expected much more the first time I heard it based on its opening sequence, hoping for some more aggression to be delivered and for a more complex composition to be delivered. It was partly fulfilled. The aggression does show up in the fifth minute in the form of crunchy riffs and where we also receive a short growl-like segment from Julien, which is one of the few times I actually enjoyed the vocals in the album and though they did a wonderful service to the music. This song is much better in its second half, though again, I think he could have done more with it, but that's my personal view and expectation. I guess that it is not what he wants to accomplish with that particular song.

Tears Are Made To Flow again begins with a similar style as the previous one, only the mood here is of a benevolent nature. In line with the other songs, this is also a highly emotional piece, both lyrics and music wise. But I find it lingers too much on one segment, the slow and repetitive middle part. But it gets more interesting and appealing as a more dynamic and powerful guitar and vocal line come in. the keyboards backing the sound do a very fine job and the guitar solo as well. I like the short segment of seemingly change of direction towards the seventh minute. I like as well the wah-wah guitar soloing afterwards, though it may sound a bit out of place in the album as a whole. The ending is particularly well done with the drums giving appropriate power to this climatic closure.

A Kind Of Heaven goes straight to business with its high use of keyboards of various kinds and a crunchy sounding guitar. This is a great opening and sets up a great stage for the continuation which is even better, as it changes tone. There is also a great bass line that Julien plays. This is a great song that progresses smoothly from one segment to the next and all the instruments are used wisely (but again the vocals detract my enjoyment of this all affair). There is a somewhat conventional use of the guitar in the soloing here but it is effective and powerful and I would have loved to hear more from the keyboards here in the lead. The ending of the song is particularly well done. This is a great song to end the album with.

With all my reservations about certain aspects of the album, I am filled with appreciation for Julien's accomplishment. This is more than a decent album and I'm sure folks who like sophisticated rock that lies in dark and powerful domains will find what to like here. I personally would have enjoyed it much more had the vocals been handled by someone else; otherwise, I enjoyed this album. Julien is an extremely talented guy and I hope to listen to more of what he has to offer.

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 The Field Where She Died by SPLEEN ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.26 | 22 ratings

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The Field Where She Died
Spleen Arcana Crossover Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

3 stars Debut album from Spleen Arcana, a one-man project by French Julien Gaullier, is a good one, but it lacks a certain unity.

All in all The Field Where She Died (2008) is an album that shows great skills of Julien as he managed to composed, play, record and produce everything by himself (with exception of the drums). The problem here is that he often sounds too much as his influences like Porcupine Tree, Opeth and 70's bands like Pink Floyd. In general the sound is very good and his compositions are strong, but he often miss the point with some instrumentation parts.

It was a great starting point but that don't show Julien's strenghts and we can see it clearly listening to his new album The Light Beyond The Shadows.

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 The Field Where She Died by SPLEEN ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.26 | 22 ratings

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The Field Where She Died
Spleen Arcana Crossover Prog

Review by The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A Kind of Melancholy....

Spleen Arcana, a project by ProgArchives forum member, Anaon(Julien Gaullier), has finally released it's debut album, creating a pretty unique mix of modern melancholic(check the title of the album, and the cover-work for previous proof) rock music with classic 70's Prog roots, as well as having some Metal influences, showed in A Picture of Two Lovers in the Mist and in Trample on Me, which this last track is definitely a good proof of the unique mix of modern rock music with Prog, bringing the ol' mellotron, as well as changing tempos every now and then to a even more melancholic one in the second half, finalising with a highly energetic guitar solo, definitely making this song one of the best of the album, just behind A Kind of Heaven.

A Kind of Heaven, the final track of this melancholic album, while still featuring melancholy , the composition is definitely the best on the album, developing a whole bunch of more varied tempos and moods throughout the song, with more of the classic mellotron, as well as featuring some moog. A excellent closer.

The rest of the songs follow the same depressing flow, led by a slow-tempo which really doesn't add any more substance to the album, besides a even deeper, almost impenetrable, melancholic atmosphere. However don't get me wrong, they're well written and are enjoyable, but you really can't ask for more than in A Kind of Heaven and Trample on Me, except maybe, Tears Are Made to Flow, while being less ''adventurous'' than the other two already mentioned, it still features a very playful mood in the last 3 minutes, while the rest is calm, and quite beautiful I must admit.

Spleen Arcana ends up being a interesting discovery for me, while I'm not a fan of melancholic music, this album has it's pretty great moments which really makes me to check out every now and then. Also worth of mention that the album is highly accesible, with the own words of Julien: ''my music is not technical'', but this is not something bad at all, again, with the own words of Julien: ''does music has to be technical to be prog?'', no it doesn't Julien, no it doesn't. I think Spleen Arcana does definitely fits the circles of Prog music, but if there was a Alt. Prog sub-genre, there they would suite much more comfortably.

3 stars. Wothwhile modern Prog headed more to the melancholic side of rock, which I'm sure others would get a much better kick out of it than me.

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