Artist: Spleen Arcana
Album: The Light Beyond The Shades
Release date: February 3, 2014
Label: Self released
2. Fading Away - 10'16
3. Memento Mori - 24'07
Recorded in Paris between 2009 and 2013. Drums recorded in Saint-Étienne in August 2011
Info: 4 pages booklet with lyrics.
Graphic design by Marie Guillaumet.
Cover: Ausblick Ins Elbtal (c. 1807), by Caspar David Friedrich
Review by Diego Camargo Rating:
The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) is an album that took around four years to be completed for Julien recorded everything on his own calmly at his home studio in Paris.
I got to know the band back in 2009 when Julien himself got in touch with me asking if I would like to review his first album, The Field Where She Died (2008). At that time despite seeing that the project had quality I thought that something was missing in Julien’s music, perhaps a greater identity to it. Well, in The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) he got that!
For fans that follow Spleen Arcana two of the three tracks on the new album are not that new, despite the fact that they have new outfits in the new album they were available before through the band’s Bandcamp page as singles around 2 years ago. But, as I mentioned, for the new album they were re-worked and can be considered new. The tracks are ‘Erin Shores’ and ‘Fading Away’.
The opening track, ‘Erin Shores’ starts where the last track of The Field Where She Died (2008) – ‘A Kind Of Heaven’ – ends and shows Julien’s passion for Scottish folkloric music. Julien’s vocals are calm, serene and gentle, however his music not always follows this path, especially in the instrumental moments.
Listening to this opening track is quite obvious that Julien is a big fan of the classical period of Prog, the 70’s, however Spleen Arcana’s music sounds fresh and new. This fact is even more noticeable in the second track ‘Fading Away’ where his wife Marie Guillaumet helps him with backing vocals (like on his first album).
Julien is a great instrumentalist now, and one can see his growth from his first album, he does well both in the bass and in the electric and acoustic guitars. Keyboards are also present, but in a discrete way most of the time.
The instrumental section on this second track is simply superb, at the same time Julien was able to write something that is worthy of the great 70’s Prog bands but with a freshness rarely present in the new bands. I must also say that David Perron’s works in the drums are great on this track.
But to be honest, the surprise of The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) is the third and final track ‘Memento Mori’, an epic of 24 minutes. ‘Memento Mori’ is a perfect example of the classic Prog Rock format in the 70’s and the new Prog Rock made in the last ten years or so. Julien shows us that it is possible to mix both and that they match perfectly. Moreover, he shows us that you don’t need to be trendy and super hyped to be a good Prog band nowadays.
My only complaint is the vocal parts. Though I recognize that Julien improved a lot since his first album in this matter I think that the vocals on his new album are much alike, however I don’t think this downgrades his work much, and the sounds you’ll find in The Light Beyond The Shadows (2014) are so rich that honestly you’ll find a great number of details for you to hook on.
Plenty of times when I start to write a review I ask myself if there’s a way of sounding like the Classic Prog that we love but at the same time bring something new to the table. Most of the time I disappoint myself with new bands because of that. I believe that Spleen Arcana is my answer to that question! The album shows Julien with loads of Classic bands influence such as Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd and King Crimson but at the same time he’s listening to the new bands like Porcupine Tree as well. You can be sure that this five years waiting was worth it.
If you’re one of those listeners that love the 70’s and grew up listening to those but also like to know what’s going on right now The Light Beyond The Shades (2014) is your album, you can buy it with no fear.
On top of that I think this is a great format for an album: 3 tracks in 46 minutes.
I just hope that Julien will not take another five years to release a new album, but if that happens and if he can top The Light Beyond The Shades (2014), I don’t mind waiting!
Listen to Spleen Arcana on our Podcasts #20 HERE and #35 HERE.