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ARACHNOID

Symphonic Prog • France


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ARACHNOÏD is a French major progressive band whose music was combined with the strengths of other French symphonic groups and dark progressive rock that recalled the style of KING CRIMSON. The dark sound, almost like UNIVERS ZERO, is accomplished mostly by employing melodic structures in the vein of KING CRIMSON's "Larks' Tongues In Aspic". The dramatic vocals are similar to that of Christian Decamp from ANGE. ARACHNOÏD's music expresses a continuous tension with flashy guitar's parts and tormented keyboard interventions. ARACHNOID is a unique band with nods to KING CRIMSON, PULSAR, SHYLOCK & PINK FLOYD!

The band lineup consists of Francois Faugieres on organ, Mellotron, Pierre Kuti on acoustic and electric pianos, synths, Bernard Mini on drums, Marc Meryl on lead vocals, tambourine, Philippe Honore on flute, saxophone, and vocals by Yves Javault, Christine Mariey, Martine Rateau and Patrick Woindrich, also on bass, and guitar. Nicolas Popowski also features on guitar and vocals.

ARACHNOÏD's 1978 self-titled album is one of France's finest progressive albums of the 70's, but by no means a classic. The album often receives 4 star ratings by reviewers as it is an example of excellent Symphonic Prog, with it's striking creepy cover, easily recognisable. The first four tracks of the seven are the best examples of their sound, and these are the most complicated and intriguing. The band have played classically-inspired instrumentals, but their vocalist lacks the power to carry the heavier symphonic passages. Recommended for all adventurous progsters!

UPDATED 2014 ---AtomicCrimsonRush (Scott Tuffnell)---

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3.85 | 99 ratings
Arachnoid
1979

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ARACHNOID Reviews


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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator 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.

//LinusW

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy

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.

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

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.

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

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.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator 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"

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

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.

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by Dobermensch

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!

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

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

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by 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.

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 Arachnoid by ARACHNOID album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.85 | 99 ratings

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Arachnoid
Arachnoid Symphonic Prog

Review by Area70

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.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to AtomicCrimsonRush for the last updates

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