Opa Loka’s release of Ian Arkley’s “One” is evidence that record labels can be brave. When you listen to My Silent Wake’s song, “Warhawks” from the album “Damnum Per Saeculorum” – also released on Opa Loka – you get a taste of what’s to come. “Warhawks” breaks the song down to its basic elements and it sounds like it comes from olden times. “One’s” soundscapes dial into the mythic. Mood is favoured over melody and as it is an ambient album, you can expect the pace to be somewhere between the dirge and the glacial.
I am reminded of Sir Paul McCartney describing how different it was to compose “Standing Stone” with full orchestra. Suddenly the palate was much larger, which meant the nuances could be greater. I imagine Ian Arkley having a similar revelation once he let go of the guitar. To be sure, with a plethora of guitar pedals at one’s disposal an electric guitar needn’t sound like a stringed instrument at all, and hearing certain phrases that present in reverse on “One” I wager that the guitar was used, albeit differently. The voice also features, but again it is used to add texture. When there are few words to guide interpretation, you start to listen to other things like how a drum reverberates or how a sound travels within the stereo spectrum of the recording. Is a sound in the foreground, receding into the background? Does a sound drone in the depths of my psyche, only to travel to the front of my awareness over time? Listening to “One” is much like when you stand in front of a painting in a gallery; you’re left to derive your own meaning when confronted with increased levels of abstraction.