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Arachnoid - Arachnoid CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 146 ratings

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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

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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