Arcana - _As Bright As a Thousand Suns_
(Cyclic Law, 2012)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
Cyclic Law could be easily excused for releasing a plethora of nonsensical, second-tier dark ambient albums when, along with those awful recordings, this label also releases albums such as _As Bright As a Thousand Suns_ (as well as Arcana's Peter Bjärgö's solo project, for that matter), which is, simply put, just wow!

Arcana's seventh full-length album sees an extremely mature band, offering a cohesive, dark and beyond beautiful piece of musical artistry. It would be a good guess stating this is the band's most accomplished work to date, and probably one of its most intricate and less abstract albums of them all. The assembly of musicians, both instrumentalists and singers, do a superb job of integrating all their abilities, skills and performances in order to interlace, intertwine and sew this fine, brightly-dark, gentle fabric and make it what it ultimately has become: sheer beauty incarnated via sounds.

Most of the music (and lyrics) was written by Peter Bjärgö, and most tracks hence share some similarity in aesthetics, but none is disappointing or redundant here. Each track is a masterpiece in its own right, combining ethereal sounds with neoclassical ones, incorporating operatic vocals, choirs, string instruments, synths, percussion and effects. There's also a touch of oriental flavour, some martial-industrial hints and a medieval vibe to the majority of the tracks, a la Ataraxia's approach to neoclassical music.

Despite the fact most tracks are circular in essence, running their length in repetition, there's a certain variety and generation of atmosphere that keep the tracks flowing, dynamic enough and interesting in contrast to their repetitive nature. Even the purely instrumental tracks ("Infinity" for instance) are an ear candy, what with the tambourine and the synthesizers generating a wonderful hypnotic and tranquil ambience, coupled with a soft effect of wind chimes (think of The Gathering's _Mandylion_ title track).

So get this: if you are a fan of previous Arcana's work, yet keen on listening to the band's finest hour; and you like stuff like Italy's Ataraxia's music, or Peter Bjärgö's latest solo offering, run as fast as you can and grab a copy of _As Bright As a Thousand Suns_, as it is one of the most amazing pieces of music you will encounter nowadays.

This 45-minutes' bliss comes in a six-panel digipak of utmost quality and beauty, containing a tastefully designed lyrics booklet and some of the most eye catching graphic designs of both cover and inner panels, including a mixture of drawings and photographs whose aesthetics are rarely encountered in today's Photoshopping world of "art".


(article published 29/7/2012)

10/27/2003 X Hoose 6 Arcana - Inner Pale Sun
8/12/1996 G Filicetti 5 Arcana - Dark Age of Reason
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