Laid down at the E-Scape festival, a testament to British ambient duo’s triumphant toils in sonic world.
In the span of their 35-year-long friendship and two decades of sporadic collaboration, keyboard wizards Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve take to the stage so rarely that each of the pair’s live appearances would turn out to be an event deserving a recording and a release. Release, as opposed to tension, is an important part of this album whose deceptively spaced-out title track may seem to create cinematic drama, yet its solemnity reverts an imposing intent to interstellar sort of belligerent expanse – filled with perpetual pulse and organ-led spiritual ebb, before electronic ripples reveal sensual dance under the piece’s surface.
There are much quieter passages in “Soar” where wild-amplitude oscillations and quasi-choir are at play, while the initially inauspicious “Surge” will glimmer in twilight zone until brisk beats set it free from latent menace – not for nothing specters of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” haunt this tune – and transform into an infectious Europop cut. It’s thence that the surf twang of “Escape” springs forth in order to not only ride a wave but also allow it to swell and bring large ideas into view, the philosophical concept looming in epic “Crux” only to first dissipate in a snowflakes way and then solidify in dynamic pursuit of elusive gist.
Given a relentlessly motorik urgency, “Runner” should swoosh past industrial landscape as if on autobahn, slowing down when a delicate detail demands attention for possible use in a grand scheme of things, yet “Howl” doesn’t linger in a gentle lull for long: the number bursts open with a sharp riff and lets in an optimistic prog prospect. The result is immense and exhilarating at the same time, and ARC serve as saviors of precious sounds; in other words, it’s a triumph.