Ultra Arcanum - The Silence Inside
After having a nice detailed interview with Ultra Arcanum last year, we can finally see the finished product of the highly anticipated debut vinyl LP/CD on Nadanna Records. Mark and Kostas finally unveil their labour of love, 'The Silence Inside' album.
The formats include 12" vinyl LP, CD and of course digital all mastered at The Cage by Martin Bowes. The vinyl contains 10 tracks, with a lyric sheet and a poster. The CD comes with some photos as well as lyrics, but most notable are the extra 5 tracks of which 4 are remixes.
The album starts off with a dark synthpop track "Twilight Shades" that has been around for a few years prior to this record coming out. I always thought this song was strong with its gloomy carapace of melancholic layered brilliance in voice and programming. The synths capture the attention the song craves with smooth transitions that capture the elegance of Mark's voice and Kostas' arrangements set to a theme of loss perhaps in death or just a relationship. "The Silence Inside" keeps the room dimly lit with crafty synth-lines and more pathways into sorrow drenched choruses that intersect with some distant resonances of Ian Curtis. The opening to "Strange Kinda Love" delivers a dazzling romantic synth arrangement that would impress the the most 80's loving synth fan out there. With each spin through the album, more technical wizardry is uncovered. I know the band has a great appreciation and affection for the 80's and it shows in the creation. The chorus reminds me of "A View To A Kill" by Duran Duran. The theme for "Another Time, Another Place" seems to drift through some lost work of William Blake reflecting on the past with regrets like Old John. The music draws out the deeper thought to the lyrics. "Two Hours Before Neptune" is a dreamy spacey instrumental track. I guess every album needs an instrumental. This one is well executed and pleasant to listen to, definitely not filler! "A Final Loss" is a top track on this album littered with metaphors for losing a friend, death etc. The airy synths ensure total capitulation of the senses. We are now more than halfway through the LP when we arrive at yet another stunning statement from Ultra Arcanum called "Daydreamer" uncovering a boy's transformative power of his imagination as it's used to escape the feeling of being an outsider or just different. His imagination sets him free. Rather than giving an obsequious bow to his tormentors he drifts into his little world hoping it becomes his new reality perhaps tuning out the reality he so desperately wants to escape from. At times the bass-lines pick up to a thicker quicker pace demonstrating an ever so slight form of aggression that Mark's melodic voice so delicately masks. "Moment In Time" delivers and upbeat vibe about remembering a special time only to have it disappear. That one December night, her eyes, ahhhhhh yeah that moment, gone good-bye!!! The lyrics are somber in theme, but the music seems happy. Perhaps it's a song about being happy for that one moment and that one moment only. Keeping the one good thought rather than focusing on the tougher times? So good riddance to those beautiful December snowy eyes! "Epilogue" seems to draw some influence from OMD's "Enola Gay" with a slower darker touch. A fitting end to the LP is the instrumental titled "Photophobia" The title really sums up the overall feel to the album in its entirety. Everything has a nice vibe musically and vocally. The overall darker tone the band chose really made a delightful listen. The CD offers 5 additional tracks not on the vinyl format. Four are remixes and "Dreamscape" is another cool track to add to the CD. Why the hell not? Is "Dreamscape" the one track that had to be cut for time constraints from the LP? Well it's a solid track about change that seems to fit with LP tracks. "Twilight Shades" finds a nice remix by fellow label mates, 23rd Underpass. The track remains dark with an Italo twist of 23rd Underpass' DNA. The Silicon Scientist discovers ways to manipulate sounds and tweak compositions just enough to make his mark on this brilliant reworking. Canadian legends Techniques Berlin turn up the beats and take a shot at "Strange Kinda Love". Just before the four minute mark the track transforms with some wicked rhythms before returning to more familiar sounds of the original track. To close the door on the epic first chapter of Ultra Arcanum's first album, Epic Dreams was called upon to rework the title track "The Silence Inside". Their version has a more spiffy feel than the album version. Less darkened areas and more lit hallways so to speak. We've done reviews on all these remixer bands on BR that you can check out to learn more about them. I will say all four have quality releases on Fabrika, Anna Logue Records, Nadanna Records etc. All labels are meticulous in their selections hence why all these bands received very high marks on their releases. Keep a look out for Nadanna's most anticipated release of early 2017 by Techniques Berlin.
Ultra Arcanum could easily polish their sound to a more commercial appeal with dancier beats and more energetic vocals, but they did exactly as they intended, a dark ride into the electronic abyss. Mark and Kostas have a great thing going here. Even though Mark lives in the U.K. and Kostas lives in Greece, the two have a lot of talent and chemistry demonstrated in every aspect of their music. Fans of Depeche Mode, Joy Division, OMD and Visage take note.
Feb 01 2017
Part time reviewer since 2012 with over 140 contributions with reviews, interviews and news articles.
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