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Artcane - Odyssee CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.66 | 67 ratings

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4 stars A bizarre croaking raven-like guitar screeches through the night with mighty flaps of its rhythmic wings , creating a sombre and distressing angst that is utterly delicious and innovative, though a heady KC Larks Tongues period influence is not only obvious , it flirts with adulation. Artcane is a 1977 French one-shot wonder, here today, gone tomorrow band of immense talent and hence an overt iconic attitude is fully deserved. Jack Mlynski has his Frippoid fingers firmly wrapped tight around his fretboard neck and though he is far from the master (isn't everybody), the style is quite compelling. The keyboards add a slight symphonic sense while the bass/drum tandem hold up well with some profound rhythmic drive.

The overall sound is appropriately murky (like Shylock, Pulsar, Pentacle, Atoll, Ange and Mona Lisa), something I personally value in the French progressive school. There is a sombre attitude, a typical de Maupassant (The French Kafka or E.A. Poe) sense of paranoid foreboding that offers up extremes and contrasts, the KC riff on the otherwise magnificent "Novembre' is virtually plagiarism, complete with the Muir-ish percussion. But its soooooo cute, the wispy Alain Coupel synthesizer really cutting a large swath, Belloc's bass roaming like some crazed 'Horla' (ah, look it up! ) and drummer Daniel Locci doing his best BB imitation. Obviously the focus is on the heavenly guitar, as Mlynski shreds, tortures and restrains his monster with considerable aplomb. I just adore this dark, moody style!

"25' Anniversaire" is slightly deranged, more of the same somewhat disjointed lunacy that constantly veers from simplicity to dissonance and back, but when Jack does the classic "LTiA part 2 " riff , you cannot help but to smile! He just takes a slippery solo that fizzes, fuzzes and sizzles like some acrobat on ephedrine.

But the 'piece de resistance' is the massive "Artcane 1", a shimmering 16 minute monster that could rival the classic Shylock epic "Ile de Fievre" for its blatant audacity, complex adventurism and stellar creativity. After an ambient intro, the clock starts ticking on a bright passage of flute synth, very atmospheric and even a tad minimalist/robotic that wishes to induce a sense of hypnosis and placid mental focus. This is almost in Pulsar territory, heavily spacey and unhurried, with just a twist of doom and gloom. Plenty of room is giving to some fiery soloing and letting loose on a variety of levels.

Short, gloomy, dense and evocative, this is one of those rarities that define a true collector's need for unusual treasure and defining the incredible depth of progressive rock's iconic history. The vast amount of these one-shot wonders (forced by a prissy and highly manipulative market) clearly highlight the value of idiosyncratic historical monuments that litter the 50 years of prog's catalog. This is definitely one of the 'need to have' albums though not perfect by any stretch, just very 'je ne sais quoi' special. Lovely cover too.....

4 esoteric expeditions

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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