Moving in the sounds of ASTRA, Genesis, Camel, King Crimson and White Willow, it’s hard to imagine following into the footsteps of the vintage Progressive Rock sound and capturing the essence of the 1970s. But for Julien Gaullier, who composed the music and wrote the lyrics along founding Spleen Arcana, his voice resembles at times Andy Latimer as if he has given the torch to him and is very proud of what he is doing and capturing the sounds of the golden-era of the progressive rock genre like a flaming fire.
Spleen Arcana has been around for five years and its one of the most up-and-coming trio groups that really show the essence and the vision like a flower opening to reveal its glory for the sun to rise and shine. Their new album, The Light Beyond the Shades, is almost like a trip back in time and its very elevating, exploring, spiritual and atmospheric. And while this is my introduction to Spleen Arcana’s music, I have to say I’m completely blown away from what I’m hearing from start to finish.
You can feel the vibration of the psychedelic and progressive sound of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s with the opener, Erin Shores, as the band go into work. Julien has a soothing vocal and he gives a lot of ideas to have a calming vibration as he plays both the instruments including Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Bodhran, and Mandolin while David Perron plays drums and background vocalist Marie Guillaumet lends a helping hand to Julien.
At times, the track while it reminds me of the Mirage-era of Camel and bits of the obscure Welsh Prog group, Blonde on Blonde from their Rebirth sessions, the guitar and the Mellotron shine through into the clouds and moments of the Hammond Organ comes in handy to give it a shining momentum on the solo work between the two instruments (Guitar and Organ) as they play the melody as if it’s a spellbinding combination and knowing that its capturing the emotional boundaries of fantasy throughout the lyrics.
The electronic and captivating touches on Fading Away, has more of a futuristic surrounding and dealing with the loss of a loved one or a friend that has passed on, but the memories of him/her has them in their mind and knowing they haven’t forgotten them. However there is some wonderful keyboard and classical guitar touches on there that gives it a relaxation as Julien and Marie help out on the vocalization in the midsection and then the harder edge comes in on the rhythm section on guitar and drums as it goes into this homage to Bigelf that is a marching beat combining the classical mix as everything is combined into one.
The closing 24-minute epic, Memento Mori, begins with a mellotron string atmosphere that is almost straight out of the 1999 film, The Virgin Suicides for the first minute and eighteen seconds before Julien’s voice comes in. There are some mind-blowing unexpected yet out of the blue with jaw-dropping moments in the passages that is on this piece. There are elements of Heavy, Space, Symphonic, Rock Progressivo Italiano, and Melodic structures that are in this finale and Spleen Arcana show a lot of gratitude here in this composition.
This is my eleventh time listening to The Light Beyond the Shades and I’m completely hooked into the world of Spleen Arcana’s music. And for me, while this is my introduction to the band’s music, I had a real blast listening to this and I can’t wait to see what Julien has up his sleeves for the near future.