Arche – First Cause (Psychonavigation)


Arche - First Cause (Psychonavigation)
Limited to 300 copies, Arche’s debut is billed as dark ambient drone. It’s more assured (and interesting) than the label would have you believe, though tracks do sometimes suffer from drone’s “Where next?” stumbling-block.

The goal with this album was to keep the tracks – created during 2013 – as minimally edited as possible. They’re meant to evoke different states of mind, and as the music is largely improvised I can only assume this means the tunes grow from that mindset as a seedbed. There is a large sense of emotion here, though: they’re mostly woozy. It’s distinctly uneasy – though not unpleasant – listening. Throughout there’s nothing invoked so much as the feel of ritual – of grand gestures and things one cannot know or understand. Sound sources remain uncertain, mostly, which aids this goal.

Aside from the pads which flow over the track like bioluminescent waves, there’s a lot in opener ‘Elevate’ that would sit nicely on Coil’s Time Machines. The same late-period Coil approach to roiling, unfurling sounds is present, adding mystery to a soundscape that has distinct physical/inner-ear effects if played through headphones. It’s as if the listener is zapped with a ray gun of restful unease.

‘Observation’ continues the unease with a track that mines similar territory to Luasa Raelon: titanic abandoned cities where slow-motion ghosts move just outside your sleep-paralysis reach. Almost muffled synth tones play over a steady drone, prodded by what sounds like a lugubrious trumpet escaped from the smack-jazz of Miles Davis’ Big Fun. The pads from ‘Elevate’ are here, more or less, though there’s much more of a sand-mining spaceport feel, rather than the opener’s clinical hum.

Spaciness continues with ‘Entities’ harking to Sleep Research Facility’s Nostromo – all flickering sounds, flashing across the field of vision while a ship’s hum remains the focus of a traveller’s sleepy attention. Birdlike sounds work away in the background, and a throbbing noise makes itself known. Something is happening. But it’s all so maddeningly out of reach, if only I could turn my neck from these restraints a little more, I’m sure I’d be able to see what is making these noises… but do I want to?

The album closes with ‘Descent’, where frequency sweeps play against warm gonglike tones. There’s some sort of metallic percussion – a hang drum? – playing around the edges of the track, which is both restrained and unsettling. It’s a track which for some reason inserts the word classy in the cerebellum, fading out with warmth and metallic tetchiness together at last. A strong end? Not so much, but it does pique my interest.

I want to see where this dark ritual takes Arche next.



About Author

A curmudgeon, writer and sometime musician. He has played Japanese drums in Japan, guitar badly in Australia and will never be as cool as Keiji Haino. (But then, who is?)