REVIEW: Arkane - "Arcane Elitism"

By Mike Ventarola

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Arcane ElitismUpon first viewing Arkane in its unique DVD style clamshell, the immediate impression is that one is holding a work of art. Like other Fossil Dungeon recordings, Arcane Elitism utilizes the marriage between visual graphics to imply the style of work that encapsulates dark mystery and enchantment on a grand scale. Happily, the package imagery lives up to the expectations, as do all Fossil Dungeon recordings. On the cover we are captivated by a blurred image of a woman who appears to be a High Priestess from another place in time. The back cover image shows a mysterious phantom-like character of nondescript sexuality, clad in black with a white mask covering his or her face. This ghostly apparition is standing alone outside some ancient ruin, as a sentinel who will be guiding us through our musical journey. The CD insert shows a larger view of the High Priestess-like image as well as the mysterious phantom-like person. This phantom masked image is closer to the gate, peering at us as though daring us to take the leap and explore the depths of sorrow, darkness, and eternity. The atmosphere of the graphics, as well as the music, is one of medieval timelessness coupled with a sense of modern day eeriness and the macabre.

Arcane Elitism is a project by IkonX with support from Spyridon of Daemonia Nymphe, Greg and Akrivi. Essentially, this marvelous work is steeped in as much mystery about its musicians as the sound it conveys. This is a body of work shrouded in a shadowy exploration of cinematic grandeur with heavy laden atmospherics bordering on a horror film soundtrack. The entire CD implodes the notion that ethereal music should be fluffy and whirly girly. It is funereal in tone and travels a road of such opulent medieval splendor that one is almost instantly addicted to it. Basking in its dreariness, one cannot help but realize that this is the type of work longing to be heard in the goth underground. The closest we come to such brilliant dark music is Midnight Syndicate or the avant-garde releases from Middle Pillar Presents and World Serpent Music.

Arcane Elitism opens the disc with dreaded foreboding. Similar in style to Midnight Syndicate, Arkane crafts tones meant for mental cinematics. This particular track is merely a tease for the macabre at heart. Mesmerism of the Temptress' Sirens follows with the ornate and bombastic orchestrations from the preceding track. Here, we are introduced to haunting whispered voices as well as ethereal angelic chanting. Vacchia plummets the music into a more dirge-like effort. The vocals are interspersed in a soto voce style. The track meanders between a sense of malevolent medieval intonations, as though in anticipation of some dreaded event.

Dryades of Selene envelops with even more funereal dirge-like qualities. Rather than provide any element of flow, this track seems to stagnate as though an apparition stuck between the realms. Organic style sounds from wind, waves and rain flitter between the notes, giving rise once again to a mental cinematic embellishment. Arcanum begins with distant drumbeats from a forgotten era, as though providing a snippet from an ancient war. Just as abruptly it stops, and we hear a bit of light drumming far in the background as though listening through the woods for a response from a battalion.

Ambience of the Moon delivers a haunted house element. The emotional tension is expertly crafted with the appropriate sinews of violin tones. The orchestration could be classified with the same skill as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, only with a lot more emphasis on the macabre. Summoning of the Muse provides a bit of a medieval organic feel, while the vocals are once again delivered with seductive deep whispers. This is musical poetry that simply implodes with dark seductiveness. Acarnanian, the final track, continues with the orchestrated dirge and funereal styles from some of the preceding tracks. There is more tension here, however, and one can surmise that the element of our horror is trapped in a bittersweet moment in time. One cannot help but envision a spirit dancing through a ghostly dance from time immemorial.

Clearly, this reviewer is highly impressed with this body of work from Arkane. It has been quite some time since an artist was able to develop the decadently dark macabre sounds for our gloomy abodes with such finesse and talent. The musical gems found on this recording are ornate, bombastic, darkly enthralling, well developed and a sure delight for dark music fans longing for the macabre essence in their "ethereal" element of music. There is nothing here that you can dance to, but certainly a whole lot to add to one's morbid environmental surroundings.

Arcane Elitism isn't the type of CD you put on and have a wine and cheese party with your friends, and thankfully so. It creates some of the most haunted moods that stretch the panorama from the Medieval Ages to the present time. It is though we are wretched souls caught between the worlds, forced to wander the globe during the height of the full moon. Highly recommended!

Contact Information:
Post: The Fossil Dungeon, Michael Riddick, 43796 Tattinger Ter., Ashburn, VA, 20148-3125, USA

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