ARCANA: LE SERPENT ROUGE
CD: Erebus Odora EREBUS.006 [2004]


In Search of The Divine
Le Serpent Rouge
Cathar
Under the Sun
Amber
Seductive Flame
Serpents Dance
The Passage
The Nemesis

Arcana, the veritable heavyweight of the neofolk élan, return with their fifth album – though it is only the fourth full length given last year’s, ‘The New Light’ – and a break in their illustrious tradition of haunting choirs amidst the lonely, weed choked ruins of old Europe is enacted with this release. Almost instantly Peter Bjärgö conducts his internal orchestra into egress of sinuous mysteries of the ancient world, its mysticism and symbolism, a quintessence redolent of spirituality bereft in the stagnant, academically governed Abrahamicism of the modern West.

This album is pointed out by Bjärgö in the liner notes as being a collaboration between the visual and aural arts, the artwork that of the decayed splendour of Agnieszka Szuba, her artwork serving to enrich the package with suitable arcane ornation.

Hypnotic, the music skirls caparisoned melody and percussion that would not be amiss in an old world seraglio with artful dancing masked behind diaphanous sendal and sensuality. As such, the music garbs itself not as ritual by rote but as ritual by life, solemn procession is replaced with symbolic spirituality of the intrinsic animism inherent in ancient Egyptian and other pre-Abrahamic culture. Vocals take a back seat in Arcana’s new direction, percussion the new prominence; educed not from soft-synth but from a selection of physical instruments, Egyptian finger cymbals, timpani, handdrum, tambourine, shakers and more. There is a tendency for the album to slip into pseudo-ambient territory at times, yet the lush production and powerfully enticing drums deftly pluck the listener out of any subsumed reverie. Not wanting to pass over Arcana’s achievements, but one can’t help  find certain symmetry with Dead Can Dance not just in Arcana’s earlier works but with this album itself, yet don’t let that detract you from what is a sumptuous and thoroughly enjoyable album, for aesthetically the music is well honed and performed.


NYR

[Arcana] / [Erebus Odora]

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Other Reviews:

Arcana [The New Light]

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