Eric Arn is a lifer. I was first introduced to his work in 1993 on Shrimper’s Abridged Perversion compilation (a release that I often say changed my life and that’s no exaggeration). His presence in Primordial Undermind (And All Tall Monsters Stand fried my brain when I first heard it nearly 30 years ago) stands out and his evolving, individual vision and talent are on display with this new solo guitar joint from Carbon Records, Highest Order.
There’s a moment in “The Glass Scarab” where Arn flips a switch and this languid, slightly hypnotic guitar meditation takes off into another dimension. Beatless stomps are felt in the quick strums and chord changes, Arn veering off to search for a new illuminated path. So much of Highest Order is reflective and pensive, music that is lost in deep thought yet never at rest. “Meandric System” is impossible to follow and within that context, impossible to ignore as Arn flits between moments of melodic resonance with incredible dexterity and fretwork, clattering ahead in the fog.
Highest Order is cohesive and varied, Arn always finding new modes to explore. “Palais Mesmer” is hypnotizing and melodic, four minutes of riffing on a repeating sequence that ends up as an odd-shaped earworm. Album opener “At 6 or 7 Adepts” is soaked in timeworn melodies that are an invitation into this quixotic sound world. Arn’s playing style is distinct, his own filter on a wide range of styles and sewn together with bits of ancient string and dried-out glue. So much of Highest Order is timeless and it’s that connective tissue that elevates it into something memorable.
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