Electronica has always been split into two worlds: 1) oft glibly beat-heavy static ostinati sometimes invested in lushly frowzy superficialities (though, of course, of this latter, there've been quite respectable issuances here and there—some of the Ibiza sound, etc.), or 2) intelligent and/or experimental forays into the possibilities of the mode. I've always been interested in the latter, which, of course, sprang from progrock and neoclassicalism. As the sound grew and evolved, a number of milestones occurred.
This disc pays attention to a wide spectrum of the history, blending a significant gatherum to preserve ambient in its various heavens (Tangerine Dream) and swamps (Eno's On Land) while sometimes nesting back down in urban sprawl (Kraftwerk's Autobahn) for a re-encodation of where the style has been and where it's going. Arrivals was crafted by just two guys, Gavin Miller and Tom Ragsdale—a.k.a. worriedaboutsatan—and it's a laid back meander through spooky, mundane, nervous, ancient, modern, echoic terrains frequently of this sphere but even more reflecting, as Roy Batty would tell us, C-beams off the shores of Orion or the Tannhauser Gates. All Things but You are Silent, for instance, wafts out to the Magellanic Clouds for oort dust and forlorn spaceways, recalling Anomalous Disturbances and other ensembles of the 'set sail for Procyon' crowd.
The Schulze and Berlin Pulse schools are represented, as is incidentalism, Impressionism, found sound, and glitch. The entire display is rave chamber chill, spaciously expansive, and warmly Humanist, but more than once the rhythms develop into dreadnoughts of beautiful doom and Stygia. Each track becomes an experience rather than a formulaic ditty, an evocation instead of just rhythmic patterns, though there are indeed centrally persistent syncopations (I am a Crooked Man being one of the most relentless compositions) building and exponentializing, becoming powerful, hypnotic, daunting.
This, spacefaces and cosmic cases, is what progressive music is. Obviously Arrivals fully intends to intellectualize the form once again, something the genre is sadly much in need of after so much Laser's Edge shlaga, post-punk half-assery, and the oft feeble later catalogues of the greats (ELP, King Crimson, Flash [Bennett & Carter]). Progrock's slowly re-vanguarding, I'm happy to say, and works like this are just as important as Marillion's constantly morphing nature and any number of prog ensembles. Miller & Ragsdale mix up muscular heavysiding with vaulting sonorities, weaving both into lengthily evolved compositions, creating avalanches deceptively burying the listener…who goes under blissfully.
About the only whipstall groups like this will experience, I think, will lie not in their endeavors but rather in the pathetic progmags (Progression, Expose, etc.) and weenie progsites (Gnosis, far too many others) reviewing them, ironically claiming to be serious while forming sinkholes where proglodytes have historically maundered and gibbered, vitiating any chance for consumer trust. Thus, if you're a devotee of the experimental, adventurous, intelligent, and unique in your sonic smorgasbords, look carefully to the source of your critique-guides, but do indeed look or you're going to miss some prime material like worriedaboutsatan.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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