Review Summary: An overlooked spacey gem.
Music bombarding from all directions, don’t know where to look or where the sound is coming from. The noise grows stronger and louder until it overtakes you into a state of euphoria. That is not the sound of black magic mind you but rather the crafty work of Arborescence a progressive/ psychedelic band hailing from England who not only knows how to rock out but also how to create visceral soundscapes.
Immediately upon listening to the first track the drums kick in with high energy. Not far behind the drums: a sporadic synth-line, things are heating up. The ensembles finally fires off its gun opening the starting gates for a memorable guitar solo that is not only instrumentally sound but also creative, marking the beginning of a surreal journey.
The soundscape of this album is immense it is always winding- the result of proficient instrumentation in union. Listening to this is like watching a graceful sword fight, every member contributes exceedingly well, taking turns in the spotlight. There is definite great teamwork at hand, as each member appropriately delivers convincing lines all thickening and strengthening the wall of noise that the songs become. There are great solos from each instrument to be found while every other instrument patiently awaits its go grooving along to the spacey ordeal waiting for the next explosive climax. When it is time to strike members lunge headfirst into the chaos, grab the reins and do it their way all over again. Resulting transitions are smooth as the songs shift the spotlight between members seamless. Solos are present as well but not only for the sake of wankery: as they contribute to the progress and direction of the songs as well as display technical skill.
Vocals are sparse on this album but it is of no loss as it allows the soundscape to run wild without being constricted to matching vocal harmonies. When utilized however vocals are masterfully placed such as in ‘Yog-Bar-Og’ where fading into the background only heard by those at attention are whimsical chants and laughs. The vocals segue perfectly into an appropriately matching synth-line as the climax or solo is working its way up to the top.
Although the guitar is interesting and has some shining moments such as in ‘Astro Cortex’ or the Megadeth reminiscent rock out ‘Myriapod’: overall it takes a backseat for the bass. Both audible and consistently interesting throughout the record the bass brings attitude along with a groovy vibe the album holds, acting as a basis for the rest of the band for nearly every movement and being extremely catchy.
The synth is the icing on the cake, unlike most records where the synth becomes cheesy the synth is a very integral component of this record. It is largely varied throughout and a mood setter for the album. Always complimenting and utilizing its surroundings the synth is often used to bring spacy serenity to the quiet moments. Another function it serves is to pass the baton onto the guitar which in turn takes the mood up a notch. Once the guitar has had its way the synth takes over once again only to return once again with the force of a freight train to charge the song at full speed into glorious climaxes.
This album may seem to be reliant on the abuse of a crescendo system however thankfully that is not the case. These guys have no problem drawing energized rock out passages as well as delivering calming ambience. Regardless if the band is playing fast or slow, the result is always equally as interesting. ‘Arborescenece’ the album titled song kick starts with a flute introduction and a synth line reminiscent of waves cascading upon a shore, forest noises such as birds chirping and bugs humming also linger hauntingly in the background. However it does not once shift your head from its hypnotic state but rather fits perfectly into blending a believable atmosphere that perfectly paints a picture of a deep, beautiful ancient forest with exotic plants and fauna intact. The song finishes off with a beautiful guitar solo that adds an even deeper layer to the trance only to completely break loose and go nuts with the India-inspired intro of ‘Al-Salooq’.
Overall this album is a progressive rock classic every instrument has spotlight moments but also work in unison contributing to form a hypnotizing soundscape both serene and energetic : you won’t be able to get it out of your head or your headphones for that matter for a long time to come.