Peter Bjärgö - Animus Retinentia
It’s been almost 25 years since I discovered experimental music and got lost in the mysterious world of sounds where the human imagination is the only boundary. Since then, I was able to experience thousands of CDs, tapes and vinyls whose magical tunes filled almost every minute of my life; countless bands and solo projects revealed their thoughts and desires invested into this abstract form of art, fusing them in music as a whole. But each time when I think about inexhaustible source of talent and productivity, the name of Peter Bjargo deservedly comes to mind. Besides being the driving force behind the legendary neoclassical/darkwave band Arcana, this noble gentleman is responsible for several no less recognizable names like Sophia, Onus, Karjalan Sissit and many others. It is really hard to meet someone not familiar with his contribution to the development of the whole scene, because the records where Peter’s touch is felt shake the market with enviable frequency. And of course, a solo-project which bears Peter's name merited a special mention following the release of the new album early this year.
To be honest, the first darkwave / neo-classic album which I had an opportunity to listen to more than twenty years ago was Arcana’s Dark Age of Reason and it had stunned me from the very beginning. It encouraged me to continue the exploration of this mysterious world of music looking tirelessly for the new food to satisfy the insatiable curiosity. But even after all those years and hundreds of other records, Arcana’s creativity remains the highest standard for the whole genre from my humble perspective and all others are automatically compared to the CDs which were crafted by Peter Bjargo many years ago. That's why I was delighted to see the familiar name next to Gustaf Hildebrand on the collaborative album back in 2005 and I kept tracking Peter’s solo activity during all those years alongside his other projects noted above. But let’s get to the point and discuss the last album of this Swedish resident.
If looking not only on Animus Retinentia but covering the whole solo activity of Peter, it is not completely clear (at least for me) why the materials which are presented on three full-length albums have been separated from the main offspring Arcana. But don’t consider this statement as a negative feedback by any means. Sometimes the compositions which are included in Animus Retinentia sound really consistent with those of Arcana, but the fact doesn’t jeopardize their own advantages. All the elements which are needed to craft an excellent atmosphere are present in this record and waiting for the listener to immerse in them.
It cannot be overlooked that neo-classical component of the tracks like 'You Let The Light Shine Through' or 'Transcend Time' is stronger than ever before, dictating the width of the soundscape as a whole. Gloomy piano passages guided by the slow guitar melodies show the real meaning of melancholy in the compositions like 'As Rain Falls' and 'Stillhet'. Those tracks present a smooth transition between the actual songs where the gentle and deep voice of Peter appeals to the ear and heart, manipulating the soul with its sorrowful touch. As you may notice, all the above-mentioned points are quite common to the level of the music which Bjargo has presented since the mid 90s, but now I would like to draw your attention to one exclusive ingredient which adds a completely new flavour to this delicacy.
In the past, a tribal percussion set the pace of the mid-tempo tracks of both Arcana and the solo-project, and of course it presents in Animus Retinentia as well. But to my great surprise, the usage of the percussion is reduced to minimum giving the room to a completely new element - an IDM-like electronic beat. It seems that everything is as usual, 'To Replace My Sadness' brings the same ritualistic drumming, yet the electronic novelty captures 'Where Night is Eternal' and fills this composition with stunningly lifelike, fresh and almost three-dimensional sound, promising adventures and new discoveries. The classic Bjargo/Arcana tunes receive a different perspective with this kind of a creative approach, while the track 'From Agony' represents this fusion of science and nature, progress and traditions, to achieve masterful benefits to the satisfaction of the loyal fans.
Once a famous English philosopher Alfred Whitehead said, “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order." As can be seen from Animus Retinentia, Peter Bjargo doesn’t stand still and proves himself capable of finding a new path of awakening of the heart and imagination of the listener, cultivating a full aesthetic perception of music art without betraying the long-term traditions. And, of course, this CD claims an honorable place in my humble collection alongside all other wonderful projects of this indefatigable Swede.Aug 16 2017
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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