Published by Alessandro Violante on February 7, 2017
Wheels of life just turn, just turn. Cyclically, everything in music history comes back to light. This is what the London-based trio Ultra Arcanum want to communicate us. According to the philosophy of Nadanna, which steps we’ve always carefully followed since its first release, their first album entitled The silence inside had a very long gestation. Whoever doesn’t know what this label is about, should know that it’s the result of the collaboration between Marc Schaffer (already the owner of Anna Logue Records, a label dedicated to the rediscovery of retro synthwave) and Nader Moumneh, known for his work with Electro Aggression Records, which is dedicated to quite different sounds on the verge of dark electro and old school EBM.
Mark Thirkell’s and Konstandinos Dorlis’ work is the fourth release for the aforementioned label, coming after 23rd Underpass and the Japanese artist Nao Katafuchi. They can be considered part of a scene defined as neo-italo disco, an underground but alive scene developed by artists such as Techniques Berlin, The Silicon Scientist (it’s not by chance that these two projects have contributed here with their remixes) and some other names having released records with Anna Logue. Italo disco is a genre recently rediscovered in countries like Sweden, but it is not so popular in Italy, being considered something old and belonging to the past, although an interest in it is slowly growing among younger people.
While listening to their songs, we could think they could be considered a clear tribute to sounds and ages far from our daily life, and it’s also true that in order to write the future, it’s necessary to know the past. That’s the reason why The silence inside is something more than an album made for nostalgic lovers of that genre: these eleven songs perfectly use forms, sounds, synths and vocals typical of that kind of music in a way that, if one doesn’t see the release date, could think it was made some decades ago.
The artwork portraits a woman holding flowers in her hand, giving us a typical clichè of the genre, and lyrics are pervaded by melancholy and dark shades. When talking about love, as in Twilight shades, it’s always made with an eye pointed towards the past, remembering something belonging to another time and another place, something ultra arcanum. The silence inside is introspective as well as its title, expressing the inner being of the musicians through words maybe never told before, waiting to become lyrics. Another time, another place evokes once again good episodes belonging to the past and ended since long, while A final loss focuses on a loss, maybe on the separation from someone dear. Daydreamer, maybe an autobiographical episode, talks about the life of a so called “different” guy, an adolescent who can fly on the wings of fantasy as a daydreamer in a Dreamscape. The concept of dreaming is a recurring one in the album, as it allows to live once again episodes and feelings buried by time, while the same happens with retro sounds, trademarks and melodies.
Ultra Arcanum have shaped uncommon songs built upon slightly and interesting dark melodies with a pop flavour, sounding vaguely obscure, always choosing the mid tempo instead of slower and faster ones, showing a good sense of songwriting. The instrumental songs don’t add anything more to what was already said: Two hours before Neptune doesn’t need any word. Dreaming, flying towards different planets is a way to exorcise by hiding in the past the fear of the future and the cycle of time and of life.
Some remixes sound very similar to the original songs, for example we could notice this with the Twilight shades rework made by 23rd Underpass, others have a slightly different approach, as in The silence inside remixed by Epic Dreams.
Although this is only their debut, The silence inside is an album showing very well how this band already has understood the lesson of their inspirations, evoking their shadows once again in a not particularly original, but convincing way.