Review Summary: I'm going on an adventure!
I don't want to be where I am anymore ... I want to live in Alban Arthan
instead. This yearning for escape is, I'll readily admit, in no small part due to the fact that real life is just a lil' bit shitty at the mo. More importantly, however, it is also indicative of the fact that Alban Arthan
- the engrossing 3rd LP by dungeon synth's brightest torchbearer, Malfet
- is really, really
On the way to Avalon
and down the snaking path
, we arrive at the secluded realm in which the sword swinging, spellslinger's latest adventure takes place. Theirs is a land of plenty: of enthusiastically plucked harps, swirling flute melodies and booming organ keys; vibrant as a forest canopy, secluded as a highland tarn and joyful as a village fête. The overgrown, anachronistic aesthetic of this locale is as charming as ever, each track brimming with the same chivalrous character and infectious optimism that made Malfet’s previous outings some of the most captivating releases in recent memory. Rustic field samples and organic, breathable production elevate the experience, substituting the synthetic tendencies that the genre is, at times, marred with for a gleefully transportative quality. It genuinely makes you feel
like you’ve gone somewhere other
, or, at the very least, makes you wish that you could.
Whilst the colours that Malfet paint with are the same as ever - generous smears of royal purple and ancient green, flecked with sepia and gold - the anonymous visionary behind the project’s sound (the wielder of the paintbrush, so to speak) alters their chosen palette ever so slightly with Alban Arthan
, working bolder, brighter hues into the mix. The tales told here have a new sense of scale, bristling with whimsy and an almost post-rockian lack of restraint; some exuding calm bliss (Sage and Cedar Adorn His Antlered Crown Aflame
), others reaching for breathtaking euphoria (Lost in Shadow, We Sought Your Radiance
). Primal choral arrangements and a driving rhythm section come together to create a refreshing sense of urgency, one that was rarely present on The Snaking Path
or The Way to Avalon
, with our gallant hero marching towards their fair maiden and/or iron throne and/or mountainous jewelry depository with a newfound spring in his step. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the spectacle of it all, as evidenced by my apparent gushing, and I think that’s a good
thing. The escapism and relief to be found in art and music has been regularly extolled - particularly now, with good reason - and Alban Arthan
may just be the most joyous escape
that 2020 has to offer. And so, weary traveler, I implore you to come forth and make haste: don your favourite helm, brandish the nearest hunk of steel you can find and come join the fellowship of Malfet
. We’re counting on you.