Recorded at Arfryn in rural South West Wales, late November and December 2021. Everything was recorded acoustically using a Neewer mic and Behringer interface. Audacity software was used for recording, various effects and mixing. All recording and mixing by Ian Arkley. Artwork and photography by Ian Arkley. Mastering and layout by Michael Shaffer.
Released on Opa Loka Records on Friday 1 July 2022.
Ian Arkley first came to prominence as the leader of the Christian metal band Seventh Angel – a band I used to listen to in my youth as I was exploring the intersection between contemporary Christian music and metal. Later he went on to form the gothic/doom outfit My Silent Wake.
Two is his second solo album, building on elements of the more atmospheric moments in My Silent Wake., but generally taking a different path. This has been a completely solo endevour for Arkley who was responsible for everything: writing, playing, recording, mixing, artwork and photography.
To be honest, it took me a few ‘spins’ of this album to really begin to actively listen to the music rather than simply hear it. My mistake was trying to listen to this as background music rather than giving it my attention. This is not disposable music to be consumed in the hubbub of day-to-day life, this is musical art to be experienced in silence. This is like fine wine to be sipped and appreciated, rather than beer to be gulped down by the flaggon.
There is something both beautiful and haunting about this release. It has been described as “a spell, a gift, a lost tale – an unforgettable listening experience.” This is a fusion of nature, history and folklore. It is mediaeval, pagan, shamanistic, magical, ambient, postmodern. It draws elements from folk music and blends them with tribal sounds and rhythms. It “captures the pulse of the earth and the heartbeat of nature”. I would love to see a film of this album—matching visuals to this ambient journey. Check out the video below for an artistic interpretation of one track, “From forest, from sea” (track 10).
It is quite unlike most of the music I have listened to previously. There is an element of the solo ambition and creativity of Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice (1996). There is the panoramic ambience of Justin Broadrick’s Jesu project. There is the haunting beauty of Splinterskin’s Wayward Souls (2009).
I have written previously about my appreciation of live concerts being ‘moments’, where a sense of ‘other‘ is created, into which the audience is invited to enter and interact with the new temporary reality created within this event. This album is like that. It creates a space for the listener to enter and for a moment begin to see life and the world in a new light. This is a spirituality and humanity to this music. It is quite simply beautiful.
Review score: 90%
Iperative PR contacted me inviting me to preview Ian Arkley latest album, which I was delighted about.
I have no connections to either Iperative PR or Ian Arkley. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool.
Many thanks to Iperative PR, and to Ian Arkley for continuing to create extraordinarily fresh and fascinating new music.