We first came across Arcade Messiah years ago, when we had a double (?) CD to review; we thought it was the career-end of a US cult prog band but they must have been very early releases from Arcade Messiah, and now we feel bad. Particularly as he gave this album away.
Arcade Messiah is one-man music machine John Bassett, who is also KingBathmat and Sacred Ape. He plays all the instruments and basically seems to do it all himself.
It’s massively impressive: the music is accessible and easy to listen to, but it’s far from easy to make: layers of instruments, all played well and added together to make a complex sound.
It’s proggy in that its complicated and there are some time changes, but not proggy in that “we’re so clever we’re going to make a tuneless racket for 32 minutes and stick a clever picture on the cover”.
It’s also a bit stoner, thanks to some solid slabs of riffage in places, and while it’s not space rock there are some psychedelic moments: Barclay James Harvest meets Biffy Clyro by way of Spock’s Beard, maybe.
Opener is Can Of Worms, which suggests he has a sense of humour. This is riffy but melodic and sets the scene for the rest of the album: very busy, lots going on, melody and prog cleverness combined.
Electro Magnetic Divine sounds like a lost classic from the 70s from the second note on, before it goes a bit Biffy. It’s got a nice singalong/earworm chorus. Show Me The Sun opens with slightly wonky, erratic synth; it and Electro Magnetic are prog in length, eight and nine minutes respectively. Show Me The Sun gradually builds, a bit side two Rush from the 2112/Hemisphere days.
Sun is slightly out there and brainy but The Witch From The West is firmly in the rock camp, the opening riff as blue collar as Working Man, the vocals on the gentler side. The Host is melodic, with lots of nice guitars.
Criticisms: his voice is not the most powerful and while there is variation, it’s round a narrow mean. That aside, impressive.
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