Arcade High – Kingdom

After discovering Perturbator which was my gateway back into electronic music, I looked at the “Fans Also Like” column, and started listening to all of them Arcade High was one of them back then and clearly the most remarkable. I remember starting from the latest album Kingdom and thinking holy f***.

 

The opening song Kingdom starts with a synth sound like an air siren tuning out a simple yet serious melody, with some dark progressions, and you’re immediately brought into the intensity of the album.

The opening siren’s position as the leader of the show is taken by a drum, which in a simple and Toto‘ish way leads the way into a fantastic serious and a bit evil sounding disco beat which can easily “get people on the dance floor” – but it’s still not just fun. This song means business. The bass takes over and leads the way into a base-line intermezzo from here the synth and bass dance in a harmony all the way to the verse with the lyrics “I’ve waited all of my life, just for you. Had me at hello” – I hope we’ve all experienced that feeling.

I’ve definitely experienced it – it’s an ultimate yet typically not sustainable feeling of love.

The lyrics are perfectly matched by a male and female singer who share a melancholic vibe, not what you usually associate with ultimate love.

The lyrics continue “My Kingdom’s calling me into the night” and we’re left with wondering about what the protagonists Kingdom is (I’m personal really confused since I’m currently listening to Devin Townsends song Kingdom, and Cattle Decapitations song Kingdom of Tyrants). Which Kingdom calls us into the night, where are we kings? The question has many answers of course.

The second song Badlands has a wonderful melody and a very retro wave feel to it, with some funky bass lines, and a ton of details on the drums a musical master piece. If you listen to the song and imagine, you have everything that is in front (right in your face), then pick out one of the instruments, like the drums in the background, there is so much detail. I also love the arpeggios towards the end, the breaks, the harmonies.

The third song Phone Lines, really resonated with me because we live in a technological world, where we spend a lot of our time in an artificial reality. We get connected to the real world again by Hayley Stewarts cute voice, and realize that the song is actually about something as simple as not being able to connect with our instincts and let go of our conscious self in a situation where love sparkles and that kind of connection is necessary.

The Quest is as nice song but not as remarkable as the first three. “In The Dark” has a super funky baseline and continues the serious dark theme, yet there’s a kind of curiosity to the melody, and the 8-bit vibe is a bit more pronounced. “Cool Inc.” Is a fantastic song – the lyrics are however terrible, and I can’t relate to them at all – but just shut your ears and enjoy a synth hit, with a simple beat and some thrashy synth sound.

Trace The Map is probably the most mainstream pop-vibe song on the entire album, and the melody reminds me of literally every youtube video, that I can’t remember. So if you want to create a youtube video showing something that on the surface is kinda awesome, and gets millions of views without actually having any original/interesting content, look no further this song is the soundtrack for your video – at least the music will be great. The song is very positive and we’re almost leaving the atmosphere that Arcade High has created throughout the album.

Full Hearts brings us back with some awesome dance-able disco with 8-Bit candy and a meaner sound. There’s a fantastic break in the middle of the song which projects the melody into the space of a full on Gameboy gameplay experience. This brings us back to the roots of the artist – and our childhood and the memories of holding the little device.

Ghost Council a simple yet strong song which exacerbates the horrific vibe of the album. With the freaky line “Don’t turn around” as the chorus catch phrase, and a verse about precious crimson and death stained hands. A number which I would categorize more as a Deep House Synth track than regular New Retro Wave, but definitely a track that’s worth a listen, and it feels at home among the other tracks on the album.

The album contains a profusion of musical detail, which can capture the listener, and make the album’s 20’th listen as interesting as the first. Unlike other related artists such as Lazerhawk or Mitch Murder the album is less monotonous. It’s a step up in quality from the previous (and the newest) albums, and has so much more to offer. This however also makes the album less perfect as a workaholics soundtrack – because it simply grabs to much of your attention.

The album starts with love, and us being called into the night, it ends with the song Home, which wraps up the entire album up by bringing back the hair raising air siren synth after a Super Mario – Power Up kinda progression (no I’m not even kidding give it a listen)

I don’t think you can describe this feeling, but sometimes you just get the chills from music because it moves you, and when I hear that synthy siren at the end of the song sometimes I get those chills – then I really feel like I actually had a power up from listening to this record, so maybe the Super Mario Power Up is in its rightful place.

A fun, I would say, observation is that the ending of the song Home which is connected to the song Kingdom, that uses the same melody blasted out from a air siren.

It mellows out and the sound of running water takes its place. This sound reminds me of the intro from the danish tv-show Kingdom by Lars Von Trier, where hands come out of the ground and a wooden wall cracks open and blood starts pouring out.

All those Kingdoms.

In the newly released album by Arcade High – “New Impressions” the track “Only Memories” gives us a flashback to the sound from “Kingdom”. This flashback kinda ruined “New Impressions” for me, because the New Impressions pale in comparison with the old, but I guess most impressions do.