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Arcadium - Breathe Awhile CD (album) cover

BREATHE AWHILE

Arcadium

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.76 | 71 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Arcadium was a relatively unknown band that released one album in 1969. For fans of psychedelic proto-prog, this is worth investigating. The bad production is actually a part of the album's charm, as it offers a distant, eerie tone, a grainy effect that enhances the anguished vocals, and a hazy, smoky feel throughout. Even so, this makes parts of the album almost unbearable. Also, the acoustic guitars sound cheap and often out of tune. The two bonus tracks are decent, but do not add much to the overall value of the album.

"I'm on My Way" Over low-quality acoustic guitar is an organ bit that begins this opening piece delightfully enough, but for some inexplicable reason, the band decides to ruin what could be a fresh piece of music with extremely loud noises, like the section of the guitar strings between the nut and the tuners. Other racket ensues on top of all this, making for a terrible listening experience. Fortunately, these go away, bringing in a single guitar and some haunting voices. As keyboard takes over the vocal bit, a gritty guitar solo ensues. Actual singing doesn't occur until halfway through, and it consists of a good melody enhanced by an excellent bass line. For the jam at the end, there's a large organ solo over an unbridled rhythm, additional vocals, and a final guitar solo, all of which is practically ruined by the poor sound quality.

"Poor Lady" Dissonant organ washes and a driving beat begin this one. The song proper involves heavy psychedelic music with verses bolstered by those distant, creepy vocal harmonies. A tinny lead guitar plays over and in between all this. Incidentally, I could hear this song covered effectively by a current pop artist.

"Walk on the Bad Side" The parts of this song are jumbled together, not even attempting to flow one into the next. It opens with a pleasant guitar bit with a rising percussion, and then jumps right into the organ-led verse, which itself sounds like a weak Three Dog Night. The next sudden section is a wild ride of grainy guitars, wailing, shouting, and a speedy rhythm.

"Woman of a Thousand Years" Comfortably in the category of early psychedelic rock, this song juxtaposes poorly-structured heavy verses (that organ doesn't even fit!) with an a cappella refrain drenched in reverb.

"Change Me" The boisterous vocals, prominent organ, and tormented sound make this one sound similar to "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals. At the same time, it sounds like what I think Radiohead would have sounded like if they'd played in the late 1960s.

"It Takes a Woman" After the somber twelve-string introduction, music in the vein of The Allman Brothers Band comes in, which is to say, a driving, organ-filled bluesy rhythm with excellent drumming and walking bass, topped off with exceptional guitar work- easily the best performance on this album, as even the coarse vocals work here. The gentle conclusion to the song is abrupt and pleasant, but does not fit- it is just unceremoniously tacked on.

"Birth, Life and Death" A siren heralds the beginning of the end for this album. Finally, there is some real progressive coherence, as the musical introduction shows. After a short bass solo, that lovely guitar and organ come back in working around each other in a brilliant way. It rather loses focus midway through, however, but the sound is richer and the music still strong- fans of Uriah Heep may find enjoyment in this.

Epignosis | 2/5 |

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