ARC

Fracture

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AllMusic Review by

If you were to reduce Arc's sound down to a mathematical equation, it would look something like this. Electric keyboard plus synthesizer melodies over rhythm equals music. Of course, the values assigned to the keyboard and synths would have to account for the variations on the melodies, while the value of the rhythm would be an inconstant, as they're forever changing. That's the basic formula, lovely in its simplicity, amazingly complex in practice. For nothing about Arc's music is ever still, the sounds and moods forever shifting via the subtle interplay of rhythmic elements and altering melody lines. "Fracture," the title track to the duo's fifth album, is a case in point. The rhythm is all important, the driving engine behind the vast, palatial images the synths effortlessly conjure up. The city rises grandly from the aural mists, but the pair peel the walls away so we can behold the dynamo at its heart. Presumably the song's title refers to just this fracture between the driving forces below and the soaring edifices above. Within, Arc easily convey an atmosphere of grandeur and pride in man's mighty accomplishments, but eventually all turn to dust, and on "Departed" the duo turn to the netherworld. Here is a ghostly realm where spirits waltz a dance of death, skeletons shake their bones in tribal ceremonies, ethereal specters swirl overhead, and all pay homage to Hades lord of the dead...and tribute to the New Romantics, whose ghost haunts the number's melody and atmosphere. Leaving man (dead and alive) behind, Arc enter the "Slipstream" to explore the natural world. Here the rhythm spills like a stream across the grooves while the melody babbles and bubbles like leaves caught in the current. The melody slides almost into '70s pop at points, but "Friction"'s is even more slippery, evoking a panoply of genres along the way. The duo slither through R&B, disco, robotic funk, and before the piece plays out, blues that sidles straight up to reggae. Arc have built their reputation on just these sorts of vivid soundscape pieces and unexpected, genre colliding numbers, but for the hardcore electronica fans its the epic, 22-plus minute "Rapture" that will send them into paroxysms of delight. An extended journey into space, it's crafted around swirling and eerie, almost psychedelic effects that suddenly coalesce, nearly ten minutes in, into a driving rhythm and rocking melody. Breaking down the barriers between space rock, prog rock, and the Berlin electronic scene of yore, this is the duo's epiphany. Never still, always exploring new ground, Arc reach new aural heights here.

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