Arcanta

The Eternal Return

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Starting with the dramatic, commanding, overdubbed vocals of "There is No God but God," The Eternal Return again showcases Ayres achieving a serene, powerful beauty with his fusion of vocal music styles. "Kyrie" shows Ayres doing a more traditional piece, an adaptation of the noted Gregorian chant, but even that contains hints of the more multifaceted nature of Arcanta; as much romantically passionate as religiously striving, it's a seductive and fascinating blend of vocal performances (if nothing else, Ayres is an excellent arranger of his own recordings). Straightforward, solo a cappella performances are here as well: the first half of "Estranging Sea" being a sweeping example, along with "Eleison," unsurprisingly a counterpart to "Kyrie," near the album's conclusion. Not everything is the mystery of the human voice, though; the introduction to "Awake as if From Slumber" consists of a light but haunting synth arrangement deep in the mix, leading to a church organ bed upon which Ayres then weaves another fascinating performance. It's an elegant and gripping mix, a further sign of his ability to bring out new levels from familiar elements. Other standout blends of instrumental power and singing passion include "Into Thine Arms," which almost sounds like something labelmates Lycia would create, though without guitars, and "The Solitary Pilgrim." The two returning pieces from the self-titled EP form the centerpiece of Return: "Maya" is now "Maya (dirge)," with an even more stirring and mournful feeling than before, yet retaining the same blend of light guitar and synth with Ayres' voice, here singing an English lyric with his trademark dark passion; and the revamped "Via Dolorosa," ends with a spectacular series of cries from Ayres. Finishing with the appropriately entrancing "Bodhisattva," a measured, sparkling beauty of a track, Eternal is a fine effort from an artist with a rare gift indeed.

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