Band: Spleen Arcana
Band Website: www.spleenarcana.com
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 2014
Itís been a good five years since we reviewed the first album from Spleen Arcana entitled The Field Where She Died and in that time the bandís sole mastermind, multi-instrumentalist Julien Gaullier has been busy. Busy adding instruments, sounds and technique to his arsenal. Well now heís back with the sophomore follow-up entitled The Light Beyond the Shades and itís a cracker! Gaullier (vocals, guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, bodhran, glockenspiel, mandolin) has once recruited David Perron (drums) and Marie Guillaumet (vocals) to help execute his symphonic prog musical vision.
The Light Beyond the Shades is only three compositions this time, a total of forty-six minutes of music that is full of softer, melodic and yes melancholic symphonic progressive rock. That may be all the description you need to purchase the disc and I donít think youíd be a bit disappointed. This is no sophomore slump; rather the game has been kicked up a notch or two. Everything about this record is better than the first. The compositions are tighter, yet still allowing for lots of room to move musically, the singing is more confident and the overall sound is that much more defined. Overall there is a tremendous sense of melody, particularly in the chorus sections that go a long way to counterpoint the sadness or melancholy. Part of that sadness comes from the Mellotron sounds, and thereís a lot more to be heard this time in all three songs. It comes in the form of strings, choirs or both. The other addition to the pleasant mandolin is more electric guitar complete with fuzz distortion and while it never overtakes the sound, there are many soloing moments. With a host of vintage keyboard modules in play, you can expect to hear more than a few musical crescendos and grand, lushly orchestrated climaxes here.
Just about everything about The Light Beyond the Shades is either a refinement or a marked improvement over Spleen Arcanaís previous record. The three compositions are loaded with all kinds of vintage sounds from Hammond Organ, Minimoog, Solina, Fender Rhodes and the already mentioned Mellotron. The five year gap has certainly been put to good use. Fans of symphonic prog will find a lot here to enjoy and appreciate. Highly recommended.