Written by Valkyrjiaa
Arcana Collective – Atlas Lost | Act I: The Long Sleep
> Space rock opera
> Alberta, Canada
> Released February 1
On an endless journey through starry sky and somber music, Arcana Collective forms the expressions of Rogan McAndrews, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and recording engineer from Calgary, Alberta. Spanning through a variety of genres ranging from progressive metal to even including pop elements, Arcana Collective blends the inspiration of sci-fi, mythology, and human action into a single yet expansive narrative. Featuring a myriad of guest vocalists and instrumentalists, we are presented with Atlas Lost | Act I: The Long Sleep.
Even “Prelude” has that space exploration defining tone, bringing the first steps of our journey into realization as we stare into the star-speckled eternal blackness. It brings in the mix of synth and piano keys, with solid percussion and definition to lay down the foundations of what’s to come.
“The Dream” continues this exploration, rising with velvety guitar riffs and speedier drumbeats while keeping the eerie harmony alive. It’s creepy yet intriguing as vocals pick up with curious undertones of shadow, dust, judgment, and the unknown. It’s the introduction into despair, eternal longing, and an unsettling loneliness that dwells whether eyes blink or shut.
With characters like Stratton, the Manipulator, and Damian, the Sleeper, we carry on to “The Launch”. A combination of both gentle soprano vocals and raspy, elusive male vocals balances the battle of desire and disgust. All while lyrics like “He’s got to get away / the pain is too great” paints the conflict in a cryptic message of loss, and regret. Damian finds his way to escape Earth, leaving his life and world behind. Haunted by the visions of his deceased wife, Damian struggles between the balance of peace through loneliness and the unknown that awaits him. “The Launch” has an 80’s feel to it, with vibrating synth, jazz interludes and rhythmic complexity throughout. It’s an interesting listen to say the least, with so many genres pecking in its hard not to concentrate on it.
We continue through “The Long Sleep”: the beginning of a new age, with Damian finally being freed from Earth’s shattered orbit. With a vast journey before him, Damian enters his long sleep while his AI companion, Nova, takes over. It takes on the visions of Damian hoping to one day see his daughter, Cassidy, once more, and Cassidy wishing to one day follow her father beyond the stars.
“I long for release / The fear of what’s to come / Yet I still yearn for home / To be held in embrace.”
It’s a fun blend of classical meets jarring chords and harmonic lengths, with a very rhythmic and soothing melody at its core.
“The Longing” caught me off guard with its almost campy, rock acoustic setup. It’s an easy listen for those looking to only scratch the surface of this expansive album and embrace a sort of one-off sound. It still holds the notes of progression, and even a classic, melodic break but goes deeper on the pop rock side with a fun yet peculiar longing; “one more time around” the sun dance – until the day Damian and Cass reunite.
Our final stop is the “Manhattan Project” that once again picks up the sci-fi theme with 80’s strength. The guitar chords and synthesizers bring melodic balance while guitars strike up the variances at spastic moments. Tasting progression and rock deep within, the rhythmic sequences are too enticing, pulling you further into this album’s black hole. The moment it all truly began, and when it all came to an end. It’s very Chris de Burgh in memory, with long, star-spanning verses that lead into explorative sound and scene. It’s a great closer, bringing all the elements the Arcana Collective dabbles in together for a mystifying and exciting nod on “What’s to the beyond?”
THE BOTTOM LINE
This takes the concept of space exploration to new levels. With a deep and well-defined storyline, Atlas Lost | Act I: The Long Sleep is a solid blend of genre experimentation and expert storytelling. Setting aside the in-depth lore, this album still lets listeners thoroughly enjoy tracks like “The Longing” and “The Launch” without committing to that dive. If space rock and sci-fi are your jam, this Fifth Element-traversing, Bladerunner, Space Odyssey memory is going to be right up your alley.