by Maria Kouvarou
There are works that require at least two-three listens to convince you, and there are works that win you over with the first note, or, in the case discussed here, with the first guitar phrase. And, yes, you might as well think that I gave away a bit too much from the first sentence, but this is exactly my personal opinion for Superfonica, the second album of the local four-piece band, Arcadian Child. But don’t rush to jump into any conclusions, for beyond the obvious “I really like this album” subtitle that I have already shared, there is still a lot to say about Superfonica, and even more in the album for each listener to discover.
And how could things be different, since the Limassol-born Arcadian Child maps a music journey that brings in convergence the streets of psychedelia, stoner rock, indie atmosphere and fresh alternative aesthetic? Among the lengths covered by the 8 pieces that make up this album, time and style open up to allow for references from the 60s to today to enter, on a route that is weaved without empty spaces, ups and downs and uncomfortable moments where the style and the time-beyond-our-time escape the boundaries of the band’s musical identity. In other words, Arcadian Child threw all their influences and references in a big pot, cooked their own mixture, shaped it into eight different music schemes and exposed these to our curious music-loving ears.
Let’s take this discussion to a more specific terrain. The opening guitar phrase of the first track, “Bain Marie”, is a challenging invitation, with a heavy rock approach, a nostalgia for the present (oxymoron indeed) and a promise for what is to come next. “Twist your spirit”, with its guitar hooks, takes us to even heavier paths with a contaminating groove, while with an experimental tempo change towards its end, it transforms to a slower, esoteric journey that leads to a closing that is clearly psychedelic (twist in the spirit it is). Next comes “Brothers”, the song in Superfonicathat lays most within the heavy rock tradition, with its riffing and grooving, and its presentation of a short, but powerful guitar solo above the standard steady music base. The following “Constellations”, a distinctly vivid journey somewhere between earth and space, holds a reserved tension, since nor the voice and neither the guitar appear too intense, and rather they are led by the bass to reach other spheres.
The energy levels drop with “Painting”, which more clearly hints to the beloved psychedelia of the ‘60s. The song makes you want to stop everything and reminisce something that you have not yet lived (yes, I know, this is oxymoron again). And then here comes “She flows”, with a strong indie flavor and an unexpected carelessness that emotionally (and only emotionally) might evoke the mood of surf rock, at least the way I feel it. Definitely, this song, with its ability to satisfy a wide range of listeners, and its suitability to be played even by the commercial and mainstream radio stations, is another bet won by Arcadian Chid. Because “She flows” might seem “easily-digestible” on first hearing, but in reality it is not, and this becomes evident with every replay.
And after this energy boost, the band lowers its pace again for the psychedelic, esoteric “Before we die. Finally, as a conclusion, Arcadian Child offer us a psychedelic journey with eastern taste. This is “The March”, their song that mostly touches the progressive rock ethos of late 60s and early 70s, and my personal favourite from Superfonica.
But whatever I write about each song, Superfonicaremains one of those albums that speak differently to every listener. What I can say with certainty is that the album is a multi-dimensional music project, where guitar plays a leading role, sometimes being imposing and others mesmerizing. Of course, this would not be possible, had the weaving of its basis (namely the well-studied bass lines and the rhythmical contribution of the drums) not been so adequately lain.
I left the reference to the voice for the end, since I consider that its contribution is significant for the album as a whole, for the transmission of the “socially personal” lyrics, as well as for setting out the identity of the band. What I mean by that… The vocals, with as much reverb as they might be dressed, remain down to earth, clearly indie, and make no effort to resemble otherworldly trips, something that comes in opposition with the pronounced psychedelia and stoner orientations that Superfonicabares. You could say that the voice stands as an intermediary between earth and metaphysical atmosphere, and as such makes the whole sound more earthly, physical, approachable and contemporary. This aesthetic that brings together the vibe of psychedelic nostalgia with a more modern approach is something that characterizes the entire album, artwork included.
Superfonica stands among my personal favourites from 2018, as a commendable album, a worthy continuator of Afterglow, and a precursor for everything that the Arcadian Child from Limassol has yet to bring us.