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ARCANA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Arcana biography
Arcana were a side project of bassist Bill Laswell, formed in 1995. Other original members were guitarist Derek Bailey and drummer Tony Williams. This power trio released debut album "The Last Wave" in 1996 with high energy free form jazz-rock improves, similar to Last Exit's music. Bailey left the band soon after, so second release was recorded with guest guitarists Nicky Skopelitis and Buckethead, Graham Naynes on trumpet, saxophonists Byard Lancaster and Pharoah Sanders (" Arc Of The Testimony" , 1997). Second album?s music is more similar to Material's works.

The band split up after the release of their second album due to the death of Williams in February 1997.

Slava (Snobb)

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ARCANA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.16 | 6 ratings
The Last Wave
1996
4.38 | 14 ratings
Arc of the Testimony
1997

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ARCANA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Arc of the Testimony by ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.38 | 14 ratings

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Arc of the Testimony
Arcana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Pharoah Sanders, Bill Laswell, Tony Williams, Buckethead, Nicky Skopelitis and Graham Haynes add up USA's Jazz/Fusion band , ARCANA. (There are other bands that go by the same name.)

But not any band can claim such an all-star cast under their name-title. Let me start with long time sax legend Pharoah Sanders. To think that this guy more than once played alongside the great John Coltrane, well, talks a bit about his level of performance. (He also played alongside composer and piano player Alice Coltrane, John's wife). Pharoah Sanders brought the "esoteric" performance element, to both Coltrane's music, as he does in his appearances in this 1997, ARCANA "Arc of Testimony" album.

Bill Laswell, well as I mentioned somewhere, is a freaking musical genius. But what I didn't emphasize then, but do now, is that he is also a hell of a bass player, as the skilled composer, multi-instrumentalist he is. Tony Williams (who died during this recording), well, anyone aquainted with this sub-genre knows his fondness for "grandeure". Also familiar to proggers guitarist Buckethead, which spiraling and haunting licks enhance the greatest peaks this record ascends. And everybody relying on Nicky Skopelitis guitar riffs. Graham Haynes contributes with his cornet on 2 tracks. Well! This is ARCANA.

How they sound? Like blending "old school" modern Jazz with Bill Laswell's intricate music figures and ever expansive "ambiental" structures. Moving towards stilistic perfection, but within a "chaotic" environment. The "esoteric" Pharoah Sanders leaving his heart in each of his interventions, as always! But each musician takes turns in the development of each track, so creativity runs wild, but never out of place, in the hands of these musicians' extraordinary and masterful performance skills!

****4.5 "Jazz/Fusion taken on a wild ride" PA stars.

For the brave at heart Prog/Jazz fans!

 The Last Wave by ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.16 | 6 ratings

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The Last Wave
Arcana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This was the first of two albums that ARCANA released in the latter half of the nineties. Here they are a trio with Tony Williams on drums, Bill Laswell on 8 string electric bass and Derek Bailey on guitar. They broke up after the second release because Tony Williams had passed away. The music on this debut is very much Free Jazz. I've come to realize over the years that i'm not really into Free Jazz. It's really hit and miss with me. Here it's a miss. I swear that Derek Bailey is just trying to drive people over the edge with his noisy, avant and annoying play. I'm surprised Tony or Bill didn't just "take him out" at some point if you know what I mean. And we get an hour of this.

"Broken Circle" and the closer "Transplant Wasteland" are the two most difficult numbers. Again it's Derek's off-key playing and all three sounding like they are playing different tunes that drive's me crazy. It's a relief everytime each song settles because the dissonance is making me twitch. "Cold Blast" has sparse sounds to start and it's kind of spacey. It picks up 1 1/2 minutes in and settles 2 minutes later but it's still chaotic and noisey. "The Rattle Of Bones" is again slow to get going (don't complain) then we get a beat after 2 minutes. The bass joins in as the guitar continues to make noise. The guitar plays some powerful distorted riffs 4 1/2 minutes in which I like.

"Pearls And Transformation" sounds like everyone is on a different page. It settles 2 1/2 minutes in but not for long. It settles again after 6 minutes briefly. It's intense 8 1/2 minutes in until after 10 minutes. It picks up after 14 minutes and becomes chaotic. A calm 15 1/2 minutes in. "Tears Of Astral Rain" opens with intricate sounds that are like nails down a chalk board. It's building and so is my stress. It settles back but it's still dissonant. A calm before 6 1/2 minutes to the end.

This just isn't my scene and there is almost nothing that I enjoyed here. The follow-up is apparently much better though.

 Arc of the Testimony by ARCANA album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.38 | 14 ratings

BUY
Arc of the Testimony
Arcana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Imagine Tony Williams, Bill Laswell, Pharoah Sanders, and Buckethead walk into a bar?

You don't have to.

Apologies to Byard Lancaster, Graham Haynes, and Nicky Skopelitis. You guys apparently also walked into the same bar at the same time and the end result is one intense album, but I'm not familiar you guys.

This is oh my God intense instrumental music. Also Tony William's last album before he died.

Ironically I was browsing around for Buckethead stuff and ran into this, Arcana, which also happened to be the name of the company I was working for at the time.

Spacey jazz rock with a little metal seasoning. So synthymetaljazzrockfusion? Not well known but well worth getting to know.

Thanks to snobb for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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