Alexandre Navarro: Arcane

Though he's worked with electronic tools for many years, Paris-based guitarist Alexandre Navarro wanted to make a more immediate and direct connection with Arcane's material and so chose to strip the album's sound to its essence by using little more than guitar, microphone, valve amp, field recordings (nature sounds of birds and water), and effects (organ, flute, and sampler are used sparingly too). While “arcane” means “esoteric, hidden or mysterious,” the album material isn't actually mysterious at all if understood in that enigmatic sense; rather it constitutes an admirably direct and accessible listen. A guitarist since fifteen, Navarro could no doubt grandstand if he chose but he opts instead to construct meditative settings heavy on delicately woven textures and loops.

The album begins quietly with dreamily atmospheric strums and graceful peals in “Time” and a similar delicate approach characterizes “Primal” with its spiraling guitar waves and bird chatter. Gentle clicks and ripples of static course through “Awaken” and “Mystical Lane,” both of which are rendered even more tranquil with the subtle addition of whispered flute melodies, while subtle organ touches help warm “Flying in a Dream.” Imagine Fennezs's extensive experimental tool-kit cleansed of rawness and distortion and instead deployed with the pursuit of placidity in mind and you're close to imagining Arcane's sound.

June 2008