Ian Arkley – “One”


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.

I imagine that composing in this way is liberating but daunting at the same time. How will an ambient album be received by the fans? I guess the saving grace is that the album rides forth under the banner of “solo project”. It has the potential to smash preconceived notions of what Ian Arkley’s modes of musical expression might be when not writing for My Silent Wake. I recall how surprised I was when James Iha released “Let It Come Down” in 1998. I expected echoes of Smashing Pumpkins and in order to appreciate this other voice I had to work hard not to be disappointed. Now I just have to wrap my head around John Frusciante’s “Maya” (2020), a homage to 90’s breakbeat, hardcore and jungle…

This review comes almost 10 months after the fact, and maybe you’ve had the chance to listen to Ian Arkley’s “One”. What are your thoughts? In my book it’s a refreshing 7/10.

Written by Karakul

Track list:

  1. Morphic Resonance
  2. Woodman
  3. When Once
  4. Ancient Assembly
  5. Reliquary
  6. New Church
  7. Wrong Frequency
  8. Permanent Ways
  9. English Electric
  10. Necro-neuroscience
  11. Out From
  12. Conscious Agents

Band members:
Ian Arkley (voice, programming, recording)

Studio albums/EPs

Release Date: 29 June 2020

Record label: Opa Loka Records

Social Media: Facebook Twitter / Bandcamp

Video For: ‘Morphic Resonance’ (version 1)

Video For: ‘Morphic Resonance’ (version 2)

Video for ‘Out From’

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