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Umbra by Arc

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ARC Umbra (CD on DiN)

This CD from 2014 features 78 minutes of retro electronic music recorded live at E-Live at Theatre de Enck in Olrschot, the Netherlands, on October 19, 2013.

Arc is Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve.

The first track starts with a chugging pulse beat accompanied by a rising tide of sweeping keyboard tones that establish a suitable foundation for the emergence of additional electronic layers: bubbling diodes, hushed synth drums, a thread of bass notes, and eerily remote screeches. Twinkling keys and some highly retro sounds slide into the mix, all geared to build a mounting velocity for the central melody. Heavenly chorales lift the piece's conclusion to an exciting pinnacle.

Sparkling electronics launch the next piece, with spacey reverbs clustering the distance. Cathedralesque organ notes rise to swamp the flow, establishing a mood of sedate reverence. This gives way to a swelling of pulsating sequencers that pursue a very retro sentiment accompanied by modern twists. Things get rather frenzied as a bevy of other classic riffs swing into play, each adding to the overall density and runaway pace of the song. The surging flow comes to a fading finale amid a resurgence of the church organ.

Track three climbs from a relaxing opening, swiftly mustering electronic puissance with deep tones and rushing comets and sweeping keys of a cosmic nature. Cycles of these riffs converge to generate an edgy tension that shimmers with beauty. Delicate keys of a crystalline character pursue a mild passage midsong, a temperate lull before things return to a state of intensity, this time with a fresh plethora of sounds: pulsating buzzes, majestic keys, and almost ominous rumbles. The composition draws to a calm close with reedy tones and celestial sweeps.

Followed by another placid opening in which spooky noises usher in a series of mounting twinkling notes counterpointed by dense groaning electronics, all leading to a gradually escalating cycle of notes in tandem with a flurry of angelic chorales. The tune ultimately enters a passage in which these elements converge with delightful results, accompanied by snickety e-perc and pensive bass tones. Everything slides into a zone of restraint, low-keyed yet edgy.

Track five launches from a sweeping keyboard platform sprinkled with gurgling diodes, quickly overwhelmed by surging electronics and stratospheric tones, all ascending to dizzying altitudes to cavort and swirl with gleeful abandon, crafting a melody of powerful grandeur. A sense of euphoric drama is achieved as the tune passes through territory littered with auxiliary electronic effects.

Sparkling chimes initiate the last piece. Gradually, deeper voiced electronics enter the mix, coaxing things into a realm seasoned by dreamy keyboard chords. Suddenly, the tune explodes with hard drums and searing synth guitar and urgent electronics, all contributing to a superbly complex crescendo of electro-rock for the finale.

A stunning concert, packed with dreamy passages that evolve into pinnacles of tasty intensity.

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