Arcane Roots – ‘Landslide’ (EP Review)
Although I wrote an entire book about why good bands break up, I didn’t see these circumstances coming. From the sound of it, neither did anyone else. Only two weeks ago, Arcane Roots debuted their first ever experimental electronic set at ArcTanGent, false starts followed by a promising showcase during which Indigo stood head and shoulders above its peers.
“Just say the word, and I’ll go, if that’s what you’re saying…”
Nobody at ArcTanGent was prepared to give Arcane Roots their marching papers after their main Yohkai Stage electric set. It was one of the best of the entire festival, the audience spilling out of the tent and into the surrounding area simply because there was no space left inside. I personally lost my shit, and I was far from alone in doing so. As with contemporaries and equals like Jamie Lenman and Black Peaks, Arcane Roots have mastered the art of getting under their listeners’ skin and wreaking emotional havoc in the most pleasurable way possible.
So beneath the surface, it seems all was not well in the Arcane Roots dressing room. Or perhaps it was, and their recently-announced decision to “look inwards, take on new long term projects, and begin to fully realise the hopes, dreams and ambitions we have for our own lives and careers” was arrived at amicably. Maybe we’re looking at a hiatus, some kind of lineup reshuffle, a new set of post-Arcane-Roots projects, or something else.
We’re used to “post-“ labels like post-punk, post-hardcore, post-rock, and post-metal – but considering the post-Arcane-Roots era is a tough one. The fact that its presence on the horizon was declared so close to the Landslide EP’s release date makes this package a more emotional experience than it would otherwise be – and this being Arcane Roots, it would have been deeply affecting regardless of any wider context.
Running at 24 minutes, three sprawling reinterpretations of Melancholia Hymns landmarks Before Me, Matter, and Off The Floor, and the four-minute title track itself, Landslide is undeniably a labour of love. Some of history’s biggest bands fucked it on their swan songs, but if this EP really is Arcane Roots’ farewell release, it feels like a fitting one. It’s light years from the likes of Million Dollar Question or In This Town Of Such Weather, almost entirely synth-driven while electronic beats keep the pulse in check and Andrew Groves puts in the mournful vocal performance of a lifetime. Guitars do still power Landslide, but for the most part the EP after which it’s named eschews steel strings, plectrums, pickups, and amp stacks in favour of keyboards and differently-wired circuitry.
After several listens, I found myself treating the reworked Before Me as an endlessly repeated priority over the tracks that followed. It’s straight up chilling, part horse-tranquilizer lullaby and part hair-raising tear-jerker, the kind of song that couples would declare “ours” before reading the lyrics and deciding to either go with something less downbeat, or give therapy a shot. Especially given this version’s standout lyrical line.
“Don’t you think it’s already over?”
Let’s pause it there for now.
LTK RATING: 10/10 (Essential listening!)
Pre-order the Landslide EP (out September 14) on iTunes.
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