Mark Shreeve and Ian Boddy have a great deal in common. They both independently rose to icon status - catalyzing the 1980's UK synth scene - through the release of several remarkable studio albums and numerous legendary live performances; Shreeve notorious for his muscular, testosterone fueled synth music and Boddy for his prog-influenced symphonic synthscapes. This duo also shares a certain duality to their character as both are "professional" musicians by occupation and Electronic Musicians by avocation - both struggling with demands and deadlines placed on them through scoring films, authoring library discs or other commercial work, against the drive to create their own, more personally expressive music which resides some distance from the mainstream. Interestingly, Shreeve and Boddy also came to re-invent themselves artistically at about the same time too. Shreeve with the formation of his group Redshift and its elevation of 70's sequencer spacemusic and Boddy through his embrace of and foray into modern chillout ambient music and the bold establishment of his DiN label - Purveyors of Fine Contemporary Electronica. Together, Mark Shreeve and Ian Boddy are the duo of Arc. Blaze (54'23") is their third release and continues a tradition of experimentation through collaboration.
Those anticipating an even greater refinement of the pulsing analogue tones and classic cosmic music forms of the previous albums will find only traces of Arc's past efforts on Blaze. This album seems to have two speeds, maximum acceleration and crawling trepidation. The missing middle replaced with spine-chilling negative space interludes bridging the areas between manic warps of speaker straining energy. The title track (5'03") opens Blaze with a steady sequencer bass foundation amidst full-on rock drumming. The madness reaches its peak as bright synth choirs saturate the mayhem with shifting shades of sinister harmonies. Conventional drumming is utilized throughout Blaze. From basic time-keeping duties on "Klangwand" (10'14") and "Sparked" (5'39") to the unrestrained rolls and flourishes on "Pulse Train" (8'52"), the sound traces its lineage back to some of Europe's more electronically oriented rock-in-opposition groups of the '70s. The track "Corrosion" (9'26") settles uneasily between the range of energies exhibited on this album. The engaging pattern of uniform bass notes beneath unsettling melodies and eerie effects opens, disappears, re-enters and eventually is tweaked into something unrecognizable - depositing the listener in a much different space than at the outset. "Trial In Scarlet" (5'15"), "Silent White Light" (4'38") and "Mother" (5'06") are an eligaic respite from the demanding rhythms and explore the spooky moody darker regions of spacemusic. On Blaze two monuments to our scene offer fresh insight into the area between space and rock music. Fortunately for the intelligent/adventurous listener, their pursuits are beyond that of a commercial audience. Shreeve and Boddy persistantly and freely exhibit their musical talent and technological craft on Blaze, leading us on a rewarding listening experience.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 16 October 2003
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