AMN Reviews: Peter Bjärgö – Structures and Downfall (2019; Cyclic Law)

Peter Bjärgö, mastermind of the sadly defunct Arcana, returns with his fourth solo release. I’ll always associate Arcana with painting. From 2002-2004 we painted just about every room in our house, and many times I put Arcana’s …The Last Embrace on as background music. Hymn Of The Absolute Deceit was a favorite track. I seem to have misplaced that CD, so thank Darwin for streaming.

Pointless personal trivia aside, fans of Arcana will find much to like on Structures and Downfall. The martial percussion, neo-classical stylings, and Bjärgö’s gravelly and deliberate vocals remain. Here, the emphasis is on slowly-paced, melancholy vocal pieces with arpeggiated guitar chords, drones, and rich string arrangements. While not as forceful as most of Arcana’s output, Bjärgö’s efforts have a subtle and restrained power.

Case in point, Anemoia & Onism features tribal percussion layered with synth and strings. Bjärgö’s deep chants convey a haunting atmosphere. The title track, in contrast, offers less elaborate patterns of percussion and focuses on the aforementioned guitar picking as a gloomy presence. Bjärgö contributes sorrowful vocals.

The inevitable comparison to Dead Can Dance can be made, but Bjärgö’s solo work is its own animal. Unlike DCD, the emphasis on Structures and Downfall is more instrumental and less song-oriented. Nonetheless, this album will appeal to anyone interested in or curious about darkwave.

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