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Album Review ARCANE ART-KritaRan :: Maelstrom :: Issue No 15
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6/10 Tom

ARCANE ART - KritaRan - CD - Dragon Flight Records - 2003

review by: Tom Orgad

In the booklet of their latest release, Arcane Art (a project led by Karsten Hamre, also the mind behind Penitent) claims that KritaRan is "a document with no sound barriers." Also featured is a short poem dealing with the self-indulgent conquest lurking in the shadows behind every form of personal sacrifice. Ironically, the achieved impact of the album itself is nearly polar to these. Be it done knowingly or not by its creators, <KritaRan> features little more then a deification of time as the imposing, ruling element of our existence, and the consequential diminution of the importance and significance of human feelings, tradition and values. In fact, it is done quite intriguingly.

The music of Arcane Art is composed of a repetitive, sluggishly altered industrial beats, overlain by synthesized sound layers (produced mostly by keyboards, bass, and heavily effected guitar) of a rather limited depth. The overall output sounds like a distorted variation of repetitive, primitive tribal music. The presiding beat imperturbably marches forward, dictating every notable aspect of evolvement in the frame of musical scenery, rendering the other expressive dimensions insignificant and negligible. While the varying themes presented by the varying instruments and sounds may change and evolve, flourish or wither, the meaning of all is constantly lessened, remaining subordinated to the formidable progression of time.

However, in tribal forms of creative storytelling (and music in particular) the zealous, ritualistic yielding to the factor of time is done voluntarily in order to reach a state of harmony with the ever-changing universe. But in Arcane Artís case, it features the acceptance as a submissive surrender, accompanied by the realization of our own self vanity: the different forms of atmospheric sound and melody freely shift between the realms of mystical ambient, medieval splendor, strictly composed chamber music and even catchy, clichť rock phrases.

Nevertheless, In spite of the alleged diversity, they all bear similar influential attributes: meek self obliteration in the shade of  advancing time, delivering the desperate tidings of our finitude.

Here, the uttermost merit of Arcane Art's creation is noticeable. Unlike other artists of noise, ambient and other related genres, artists who use different methods of external filtering and screening in order to achieve the desired sense of estrangement, the Norse duo of Arcane Art manages to render it to seem natural and imperative. Each of the instrumental entities is successively imparted with an inner sense of mechanism and coldness, bearing a synthesized sound that incredibly seems to stem from its innermost kernel. The articulated phrases always feature of amalgamation of robotic elements within the human-like faÁade, making us realize the banal triteness of any form of individual manifestation.

Arcane Art weave soundscapes according to which the axis of time doesn't interrupt or spoil us; we are simply meaningless derivatives of it, being defined by it. KritaRan confronts the listener with the sense of his misleading illusion, impelling him to face the unbearable truth: The actual, ultimate tribe is humanity; its continuous tradition is null.

Nonetheless, the release does bare a few shortcomings, preventing it from being a truly wholesome creation. Strangely, the album is divided to seven chapters. Now, as I described, the strongest message conveyed by the music is the vanity of any of the specific tales we encounter along the path of our existence. So, while supposedly shifting atmosphere with the autonomic realm of every chapter, they axiomatically fail to express a tangible, emotional essence: after making one realize that his humanistic agenda is intrinsically false, any attempt to submerge and involve him within a continuous, concrete narrative is vain, not to say farcical. Therefore, after successfully conveying an intellectual agenda negating the value of feelings, attempting to base upon it an expression dealing with such is bound to an inevitable failure. As ideologically impressive as it may be, listening to the whole album (nearly one hour long) is, to be honest, quite boring.

All in all, the latest release by Arcane Art is an interesting, thought provoking effort, worthy of observance and analysis. Still, in order to reach true greatness, they will have to resolve the paradox of endowing the tidings of indifference with more interesting and attractive traits. (6/10)


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