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Articles Home » 2013 Articles » Arcangel - 2013 Harlequins Of Light
Arcangel - 2013 Harlequins Of Light

ARTIST: Arcangel
ALBUM: Harlequins Of Light
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2013
SPONSOR: Frontiers Portal


LINEUP: Jeff Cannata - lead and background vocals, drums, bass, keyboards, guitars * Jeff Batter - acoustic piano, synths * Jay Rowe - organ, synths * Scott Spray - bass * David Coe - acoustic guitar * Jimi Bell, Gary Maus, Andy Abel, Tony Spada, Mark Proto, Jay Jesse Johnson - lead guitars * Pete Hodson - synths, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Harlequins Of Light * 02 As Far As The Eye Can See * 03 War (BattleWounds Of Life) * 04 Voice Of Illuminati * 05 Through The Night * 06 Amnesia (The Rest Of Your Life) * 07 Fortune Teller 2 * 08 California Daze * 09 Tonight * 10 Forever * 11 Get To You * 12 Diamonds And Gold * 13 Legend Of The Mary Celeste



We've all heard the name 'Harlequin', particularly the regular readers of GDAZE. But what actually is a harlequin? Well, according to that fountain of all knowledge (Wikipedia.. err cough..), a harlequin is a comic (or comedic) servant supposedly originating from the ancient Sufi culture. Its name has changed over the centuries (Arlecchino in Italian, Arlequin in French, and Arlequ¡n in Spanish), but its role also encompassing that of a Court Jester or Trickster, has not. So with that in mind, we are presented with the new (second) album under the Arcangel banner by Jeff Cannata. Firstly, for those of you hoping for a repeat performance of the 1983 debut Arcangel album, I'm sorry to say - that won't be happening here. Disappointed? I surely am. Cannata has mixed the aces in the pack like the aforementioned trickster, and come up with a package that's mostly modern progressive rock with a light dusting of commercial AOR, sadly to say. However, when you look back, Jeff has always had a progressive leaning with perhaps that first Arcangel record being the odd-man-out. Certainly all of his albums both prior to and following on from 'Arcangel' are mostly pure prog rock recordings, so in reality why should 'Harlequins Of Light' be any different? The Frontiers press release says this: The new record would metaphorically build a bridge between Cannata's different musical eras: from the commercial and pompous melodic rock of the early eighties, to the more prog and hi-tech musical material of his most recent solo albums.. I think on this latest album, Jeff has already walked over the 'metaphorical bridge' years ago, and in my opinion this album could easily be corralled into the Cannata collection of progressive rock projects instead.

The Songs
The album uses grand piano motifs to drive the main melody for each song, which softens the overall effect. The drum sound too is notable for its lack of beef.

'Harlequins Of Light' you've probably seen as a promo video from Frontiers. I think it's a reasonable track and containing some (not all) of the elements which made the first Arcangel record so appealing. Unfortunately, the approach and style on this album does not follow throughout.

'As Far As The Eye Can See' is one for Yes fans, with a sound taking us back to their 'Big Generator' era. For the AORsters reading this article, this track is for you. Take it while it's on offer.

Nowhere is there any energy resembling the songtitle 'War (BattleWounds Of Life)'. It's totally inoffensive and 'nice', which confuses me why they would approach songwriting in this way.

I liked the building drama experienced on 'Voice Of Illuminati', but offsetting that, I found that too many times momentum was lost with a drop-off in intensity during crucial stages like the chorus! It's like travelling on a freeway and passing the 100 km sign, and then slowing down for no reason whatsoever. That doesn't make sense!

Graced with piano and string instruments, 'Through The Night' meanders its way at half-pace mostly, but admittedly does thicken up in sound as we progress through, including a vital guitar solo. It's one of the tracks with a hint of the original Arcangel legacy.

'Amnesia (The Rest Of Your Life)' shuffles along in cruise mode, there's no change-up, just some soloing to colour up the song. I think I preferred Saga's version of 'Amnesia'!

'Fortune Teller 2' was a great song which originally came from the Cannata canon of works, but a 2013 rehash was totally unnecessary for this album.. in my opinion.

'California Daze' is the track that provides the most contrast on this album. A rumbling surf/sun rocker with little of the prior progressive elements.

'Tonight.. Forever' returns to the piano led progression meandering across the soundscape. Sure some sonic lead guitar adds an edge, and for awhile there are some pomp elements coming across plus some tougher rhythm guitar parts, but not enough to make a difference.

'Get To You' swings generally in the direction of Arcangel circa 1983. I like the prominence given to the acoustic guitar on this one, which makes it easier to digest as a standard rock song. Also, the organ work adds to this viewpoint.

'Diamonds And Gold' is the 2013 equivalent of 'Stars' though nowhere near as bombastic as that 1983 classic!

If you've read the maritime story of the Mary Celeste, you'll enjoy Cannata's prog rock representation 'Legend Of The Mary Celeste'. Though not a nautical expression musically, it's a gentle excursion of Styx-ian like quality. As a footnote, the vessel was found with no one onboard in December 1872, while its state was pretty much intact except for some missing barrels of cargo. A mystery to this day.

In Summary
The elements which made the first Arcangel record so good were the bombastic nature of the music and the pompous ideals expressed. Sure, it was a different time, but there is none of that here though. 'Harlequins Of Light' is still good for what it is, it's just not what I was expecting. Nor is it what I would call a 'hard rock' album, and this is the thing that irks me the most. The lilting piano and drum production is nowhere near what it should be as a hard rock project. By joining up with Frontiers Music, I thought the whole purpose of a new Arcangel album was to put out a package that would be in alignment with the label's demographic of melodic hard rock. Instead, this album should've been picked up by InsideOut Music or a progressive rock specialist label. So, by referring to a harlequin or trickster at the outset of this article, this album is aptly named because at the end of the day, longtime AOR fans may feel cheated by the mis-representation. I give it a seven.

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#1 | gdazegod on August 30 2013 05:06:32
YouTube Video:
#2 | Eric on September 01 2013 02:04:49
I'm kind of so-so on this disc as well although I've only spent a few days with it. Maybe its a grower? Maybe.
#3 | george_the_jack on September 08 2013 00:47:43
I think this might be the case that Eric says above, a grower. Surely it doesn't sound immediate although I liked what I heard a lot more than George did from the very first play. However, I've only given it 3-4 spins so far and I can't comment if this will stand the test of time. I hear some well crafted and played songs, meticulously written lyrics and a sharp prog-ish production. Nice stuff. The st especially is a killer tune! We'll see if it will turn out to a classic. I'll probably come back later with a more crystallized verdict! Grin
#4 | gdazegod on September 08 2013 01:31:03
In some places, Jeff sounds like Phil Vincent on the vocals.
#5 | Explorer on September 10 2013 12:59:12
Enjoyed your review George. I can see where you are coming from as regards being disappointed as it is not a true'ArcAngel' album in that little of the pomp that the 1st album delivered is in evidence. However, having said that having lived with the album for over a week now I must say I'm enjoying it a lot as I am partial to a bit of a Prog-lite/Hi tech AOR hybrid .
#6 | Geir on September 30 2013 13:51:57
Just playing this for the second time and liking what I'm hearing. It won't knock the same titled album from 1983 off its pomp throne anytime soon, but it works in its own right in a more laid back fashion without turning into a snooze fest...

...Which, by comparison, is what 'Images of Forever' will do to me on most occasions that I venture past 'Will the Sky Begin to Fall?' in the tracklisting. (Apologies Jeff C., should you ever read this.)
#7 | englandashes on October 29 2013 19:18:07
Been playing this recently, and I quite like it, while his remake of Fortune Teller seems to get all the press, sort of un-noticed is the reworking of Through The Night, which I knew I had heard before, well it come from Watching The World album, in the early days of Now and Then records, I suppose this label was the forerunner in those early daze!
#8 | Jez on February 02 2016 13:23:58
Expertly crafted Pomp/AOR from Jeff Cannata. A long time coming, but well worth the wait.
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