Julien Gaullier is a French songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion and vocals). He started a musical project in 2008 under the moniker of Spleen Arcana in which he creates music that has its roots in the progressive rock sound of the seventies. He released his first Spleen Arcana album in 2009, with a limited print run of 500 copies, entitled The Field Where She Died. Five years later he managed to come up with a follow up album, named The Light Beyond The Shades.
On this album he got some help from his wife Marie Guillaumet on backing vocals and David Perron on drums. The album has only three track to enjoy. You might say that's not much, but you have to realise that none of them are below ten minutes. The longest track even goes towards the thirty minute limit. I guess listening to those pieces of music with a total time of almost forty five minutes is long enough to get an idea of what Julien Gaullier is capable of. Right from the start you can hear he was influenced by the music made by Pink Floyd. Not that you can hear the same kind of guitar parts David Gilmour is famous for, that's not the case at all. It's more the dreamy kind of music this British band made. Throughout the entire album this is notable. Julien uses the same kind of relaxing vocal parts that every now and then could be heard on many Pink Floyd releases. The same kind of moods they created are present on this second Spleen Arcana effort. Other times he brings you back to the early days of King Crimson. This is mainly because of the use of the Mellotron. The use of this instrument made me think of the KC albums In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969) and Lizard (1970). A musician that has to be mentioned as well, and who must have been inspired him, is without a doubt Mike Oldfield. Another musician who in the early days of his career played all of the instruments by himself.
All of the three compositions are worth listening to, but you could say that the musical highlight on The Light Beyond The Shades is the track that finishes off the album. Memento Mori is an epic piece with many musical moods. During the 24 minutes the song lasts you never get the feeling it's way too long. Mr. Gaullier manages to keep you focused all the time. Sometimes by using fine Mellotron parts, other times by playing a tasteful guitar solo. Finally I can tell you that the lyrics are about Ireland, time passing by, wandering, memories, love and melancholy. The music that comes along with those lyrics gives you the same kind of musical thoughts.
I can only say bravo to Julien Gaullier for coming up with a rather strong second Spleen Arcana album. Hopefully his third effort will be of the same high musical calibre! Recommended to those who enjoy the music of acts such as Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Mike Oldfield.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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