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Arcadea: Arcadea

When Mastodon's latest album (Empire of Sand) dropped, there was the usual mixed response. Some thought it was excellent whereas others thought it was a step down. Mastodon fans are rarely neutral; either the music is superior or it stinks.

Mastodon is relevant because Arcadea features the talents of Brann Dailor who, not surprisingly, plays drums and sings on this album. Dailor's fans will love his playing on this album. If there was some way to isolate his drum tracks, this album would stand out as a masterclass in musicianship. Dailor's style—bustling, exciting, and bold—never disappoints. Dailor's playing helps make this album, partly because they are so grounded and partly because it contrasts so pointedly from the band's otherwise heavy use of keyboards.

Arcadea present themselves as futuristic musical pioneers, intergalactic travelers who create sounds best described as electric, psychedelic, uncanny, and otherworldly. Careful listeners will hear plenty of the Mastodon influence here, particularly that band's willingness to explore new sonic territory. Arcadea isn't Mastodon, but few will miss some of the stylistic similarities.

This album's first half is especially good. The first three tracks show off the band's energy and solid songwriting skills. They also persuade listeners to stick with it. This isn't the awful and bizarre album some think it is. My favorite track was "Neptune Moons," the first slow, more experimental, track. The vocals, sung by another band member, are performed in unison with an electronic track that gives everything a metallic edge. And then there's the section where the vocals take on the distorted and electronic quality fans of Mastodon's Blood Mountain will recognize.

The album's second half loses some of the energy of the first half but it still rewards careful listening. This is where the band also lets things develop in new and strange directions. As for the individual songs on this half, I preferred "The Pull of Invisible Strings" and "Magnificent Façade." That last track is also one of the most progressive and psychedelic of the bunch.

This is a successful and fascinating debut from a talented group of musicians. I listened to it nearly three times before writing this and each time I heard new and interesting things. Even though the drums kept my attention throughout, I found the keyboards to be rich, ethereal, and engaging as well. I suggest giving this one a couple of spins before settling on a firm opinion. This isn't Mastodon and the bands more outspoken fans (and critics) need to listen before judging this one. Be sure to check out the killer cover art by Essy May.

Track Listing:
1. Army of Electronics
2. Gas Giant
3. Rings of Saturn
4. Neptune Moons
5. Infinite End
6. Electronmagnetic
7. Motion of Planets
8. The Pull of Invisible Strings
9. Through the Eye of Pisces
10. Worlds Can Go On
11. Magnificent Façade

Added: June 12th 2017
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1752
Language: english

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