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Arcane Dimension: Avantgarden

Billing itself as "the San Francisco Bay Area premier Avant-garde World Fusion band/performance group," Arcane Dimension certainly sets up high expectation. Fortunately, there's a lot to like on their newest LP, Avantgarden, which blends seductive singing with Middle Eastern timbres and rock intensity. Although there are a lot of contemporary bands more or less following the same path, the album is still enticing (its title alone earns it a point or two).

The group formed almost a decade ago and currently consists of Polish-American multi-instrumentalist Jarek Tatarek and two signer/performers, Teresa Camp and Katie Staniszewski. Blending "world fusion, electronic beats, and tribal belly-dance," their core sound (and live set) includes "enchanting female vocals, haunting bowed guitar…hypnotic rhythms, ritualistic elements, one-of-a-kind stage costuming and stage directions, guest musicians, and dancers…" Naturally, Arcane Dimension is probably ten times more intriguing to see as it is to hear; even so, Avantgarden still presents a strong vision by a brilliant, forward-thinking act.

From the opening tribal strings, percussion, and sultry vocals of "Beyond the Horizon," listeners are carried away to a majestic, slightly mischievous land. Truthfully, acts like The Gathering and Manooghi Hi immediately come to mind, as do Orphaned Land and parts of Pain of Salvation's BE; however, that doesn't mean that Avantgarden is without its originality and merit. "Love Hypnotique" is layered with beautiful strings and equally enjoyable melodies, while "Garden of Arcade Delights" is much more frantic and affective; it's a great showcase for instrumental prowess, and its recurring motifs are addicting.

"The Poem" is a brief interlude made up entirely of intersecting vocals, and it's exceptional. "Atlantis Rising" is easily one of the strongest songs in terms of songwriting and emotion on Avantgarden, while "Music of the Spheres" once again heightens the complexity. "Two Hundred Swords" succeeds because of its elegant acoustic guitar work, while the title track closes the album with a touch of techno and impressive dynamics. It's not a highlight of the record, but it's still provides a sufficient conclusion.

Avantgarden would've arguably been more unique a decade or two ago, but it's still extremely striking. The music is superbly organic and melodic, and the singing is simultaneously sexy, sweet, and silky smooth. Best of all, each track offers something different while also feeling perfectly situated within the sequence of the album as a single entity. Arcane Dimension sound confident and classy with every note, and fans of the style will adore what they do here.

Track Listing
1. Beyond the Horizon
2. Love Hypnotique
3. Garden of Arcane Delights
4. Haunted by the Muse
5. The Poem
6. Atlantis Rising
7. Music of the Spheres
8. Two Hundred Swords
9. Avantgarden

Added: August 20th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2794
Language: english

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