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Review: Arcane Roots – Landslide

I’m absolutely fucking gutted that Arcane Roots have decided to split up after their Landslide tour. They are a band that consistently make absolutely superb records that are anything but “more of the same” from the last album.
From Left Fire to Blood and Chemistry to Melancholia Hymns, each stands on it’s own. A testament to the way the band continue to grow, mature and pull in more influences, experiences and kick-assery than they did the release before – all pulled together with a common thread in Andy’s vocals. Now they’ve dropped the Landslide EP, which is three electronic versions of songs from Melancholia and a title track.

Wait, what? More electronica?

Yes. The parts of Melancholia Hymns that proved pretty divisive are what this release is entirely about. If you didn’t enjoy those in Melancholia Hymns, you should listen to this anyway, because it might help change your mind. The record opens with “Before Me [Over]”, which also features Emily Denton (https://emdmusic.co.uk/) on vocals, it starts slow, almost hymnal, layers of music and vocals rising and fading like waves, then Andy begins his smooth, soothing, mellifluous vocal melody backed with some synth piano. It continues to grow more complex, heavier, steeped in emotion, without shredding, without crashing drums, but my pulse is going like the clappers anyway.

Here’s the thing – what you’re hearing right now (well, if you were listening to it) is what this release is about. The song grows and grows, layer upon layer of intricately woven, mesmerisingly well arranged melodies, instruments and vocals. It actually doesn’t even sound like Arcane Roots anymore, the only thing tying it to the band is the vocals. There are no guitars, no actual drums (just digital ones), no riffs – and here’s where I wonder what the reason for the split was.

I saw them perform some of the Landslide set at ArcTanGent this year (it was insanely good), they all seemed to be into it, but, on reflection, maybe Andy was a little bit more into it? Who knows – I’m speculating – but maybe they had musical differences about the electronic direction, maybe this release was a tester, maybe Jack snores? Who’s to say.

The rest of the album continues in this vein, but each track opens up the original songs with this new interpretation into something completely different. It tugs at my heart strings and listening to Andy deliver his most stunning vocal performance to date makes me wonder whether the winds of change were already blowing when this record was being put together.

If you’re after riffs and shouting, this album probably isn’t for you, but if you want to hear the amazing final chapter from one of the most musically diverse bands to ever grace your earholes, give it more than one listen before making up your mind – and really hear the vocals. If you can catch them on their current Landslide tour, then do, it may be the last time you ever get to see them live. I’m going to.

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