Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arcane Dimension: Avantgarden

I've been wracking my brain how to do justice to both Arcane Dimension and their album Avantgarden with this post, and have decided that before I even start talking about the album, I just simply MUST tell you about the band behind it.
Arcane Dimension is comprised of Jarek Tatarek, who plays a number of instruments. Including and perhaps most importantly, the signature sound of Arcane Dimension, the GuitarViol (a bowed guitar that you have to hear to understand), and Teresa Camp, an extensively trained and amazingly talented singer and belly dancer. Yep, belly dancer. Not only does Teresa provide the haunting vocals of Arcane Dimension but she choreographs and dances during their live performances. Sadly I've not had the pleasure of seeing a live performance, but I have seen a number of videos from performances past and am blown away by the amount of artistry and in each of them. Very seldom do you find a band who's live performances not only eclipse their studio albums but provide visual stimulation beyond the typical lighting effects. Arcane Dimension does exactly that, and more.

Here is a video from Tribal Fest 14 of Arcane Dimension performing 'Music of the Spheres' from Avantgarden. The guitarviol can be heard in the background, that haunting stringed instrument you hear? yep, that's it.

See what I'm talking about? You don't see a performance like that all the time...except at their shows.

Ok, now on to the album.  From the moment you see the album art of Avantgarden you begin to suspect you are in for a treat, and you wouldn't be mistaken. Originally independently released in 2012 Avantgarden was remixed, remastered, and re-released in 2014 by Ravenheart Music and two bonus tracks were added.
This album defies words, but I'll try my best. The first track "Beyond the Horizon" starts with a hypnotic combination of zills and guitar leading into throaty vocals, which meld together and bring to mind carpeted dance tents of the middle east. While rest of the tracks vary in the images that they bring to mind and the sound they present, they each flow well into each other and maintain a "world beat" flavor with a hint of the metal and atmospheric rock of previous albums. The instrumental tracks such as "Garden of Arcane Delights" are nearly impossible to simply listen to as they seem to want you to get up and move to them (stretch first though, that doumbek beat is killer).  Aventgarden is literally a garden of Auditory Addiction, and something you should experience for yourself. So finish reading and then head over to where you can see and hear exactly what I'm talking about. I hope you enjoy your newest Auditory Addiction.

Arcane Dimension is primarily Jarek and Teresa, however their albums and performances feature a number of guest musicians such as Jared Marill and Susu Pampanin on Avantgarden, and belly dancers from the San Francisco California bay area.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Avantgarden for review purposes but the proceeding review is entirely mine based solely upon my opinion of the album.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throw Back Thursday: The Monkees - Laugh

In keeping with the idea of songs that get stuck in your life (or my life in this case) I thought I'd do a twist on "Throw Back Thursday". These posts will be songs that in someway effected my life, and how.

Without a doubt The Monkees were my first Auditory Addiction, and they have remained one of my favorite bands for 30 years. So it shouldn't surprise me or anyone, that some of their songs have impacted some of my philosophies of life.

Laugh, is one of those songs, a basic outlook on life that has stuck with me since I was 10 years old. Just Laugh. Even when things are bad, if you can laugh you'll be ok. Simplistic in nature but it instilled a sense of wow at that age, and though over the years the idea has evolved it is still one of my basic beliefs.

The video will make you laugh, the music is simple, and Davy's accent is strong. But the message if you get it, is priceless.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

S.J. Tucker's Stolen Season

I've been a fan of S.J. Tucker's for a number of years now, and have quite a few of her albums, but Stolen Season very quickly rose to become my favorite.
Up until this album I've personally categorized Sooj's style to be somewhere in the genre of pagan folk rock, this album however is vastly different. Where previous albums have had more lighthearted and even humorous songs, the tracks on Stolen Season seem a bit more, grown up. Of course Stolen Season is still a masterful arrangement of instruments, amazing storyteller lyrics and the powerful vocals that Sooj's fans have come to expect. But it has a bit of a darker feel. The haunting lyrics speak of personal empowerment and retaining yourself even in matters of the heart. The slow southern blues sound with a hint of jazz thrown in for flavor makes me think of smoky speakeasies and warm summer nights. Stolen Season remains true to the fairytale nature of Sooj's lyrical stories while adding a rawness and depth of emotion that while not absent in previous albums, was not nearly as present as it is here.
I have many favorite songs from Sooj's past albums, but even the ones I love the most do not speak to me the way some of the songs on Stolen Season do.
From Black Swan Blues with lyrics like "Singing up the wind and rain /Gonna shake you down with my refrain /Stepping out from in between/ Baby I got tricks you've never seen"
To "It all comes down to choices,/but you've only the hard ones left,/and so, all you can say is/"I belong to me./Even now, even here!" of Girl Into Devil (I Belong To Me) the lyrics speak of standing up for and owning yourself. One of the tracks even manages to sum up a previous relationship of mine in a way that was both enlightening, healing, and rather disturbing, but in a good way.
Without a doubt, Stolen Season is my favorite S.J. Tucker album. If you'd like to see if it's yours too, you can find both the unmastered release and the mastered studio copy as well as her previous albums, at I am personally very fond of the unmastered release as it reminds me of listening to vinyl records as a kid. However the mastered copy is excellent as well.
I hope you enjoy your new Auditory Addiction.