John Rossi | Somers Point, NJ United States | 09/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been an Acoustic Alchemy fan for roughly 10 years. I had almost all of their stuff and loved it, but for some reason sold it (why oh WHY?) to make space on my shelves. I think I will buy my collection back someday. Looking back, I don't know why I gave my AA collection to a CD discount warehouse. This is a great band. I digress. I apologize. I just got this album yesterday and I love it. Having seen Acoustic Alchemy perform live in person, I can agree with a previous reviwer. The energy they have onstage makes all the difference. It is one thing to listen to a recording, and another entirely to hear then play live and in person. ARCANUM to me captures that live energy very well. It may bias me that the cuts on this CD happen to be some of my favorite AA cuts in any case. I like the fact that in some places, electric guitar is used in some of the songs in place of the keyboards that are found in the original cuts of the pieces. It gives the song a different energy and feel altogether while retaining the melodies we all know and love. Particular standouts for me were Mr. Chow, Reference Point, and Homecoming, and I cannot forget Casino. The version found here of that cut may be to my mind the best of the three that I know of. In fact, to me, the version of CASINO found here alone was worth the purchase of this CD just on it's own. It may not be that for you, but it was for me. I do want to get one thing straight, however, and that is this. Just because I mention these tracks first does not mean the others are weak. Catalina Kiss is a great cut too, and Jamaica Heartbeat and Hearts In Chains actually grew on me more as I heard them done here. All the tracks here really are excellent. In short, if you are unfamiliar with Acoustic Alchemy, you can GET familiar with them with this great, energetic emotional CD. The original studio versions of the cuts on this album will give you a "cleaner" studio sound and feel, but really the tunes are the same, and in some cases BETTER on this album, which gives you the raw energy, enthusiasm, spontanaiety, and power of a live performance, but without you being distracted by crowd noise and cheering. For nearly 20 years now, Acoustic Alchemy has gone strong as one of the best bands in contemporary instrumental music (despite the sad passing on of founding member Nick Webb in 1998 due to cancer. Rest in peace, Nick. We miss you and know that from above you are smiling down to know that your work and dream lives on). If you don't know them, this may be a good place to make their acquaintance. Once you do get to know them, you may be in the mood to get more of their stuff. It could be the beginning of your being a big fan of thiers for a long time to come, just like it was for me, starting all the way back in around 1994. If you do pick this up, or any of their CDs, I wish wish you many many hours of happy, satisfied and contented listening. God bless you and yours, always. Peace to all readers of this review."
Excellent CD one of their best
Paul Levin (PaulGuy88@yahoo.com) | Danbury, CT | 09/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a band which I dearly love. But as much as one may enjoy their albums you know nothing of this group unless you've seen them live in person. The energy and sheer excitement they can produce on stage can be frankly exhausting. In person there is a dynamic range to their music which doesn't seem to come through in their recordings. This album comes the closest to those performances. Compare these versions of Casino and Lazeez to their original recordings and you'll see what I mean. My greatest wish is that these guys will someday produce a live double CD so everyone can enjoy."
PAFF IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Paul Levin (PaulGuy88@yahoo.com) | 10/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ARCANUM IS A FITTING TRIBUTE TO NICK WEBB,FOR IT IS THE LAST RELEASE THAT HE WAS INVOLVED WITH FROM START TO FINISH. THE ACCOMPANYING VIDEO THE BEST KEPT SECRET SHOWS THE GREAT CAMADERIE BETWEEN WEBB AND CARMICHAEL ALONG WITH THE OTHER BAND MEMBERS THAT PARTICIPATED IN THIS PROJECT. A TREMENDOUS RELEASE ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHERS. MY FAVORITE BAND A BREATH OF FRESH AIR."