Dagobert's Revenge

Arcturus and the Deception Circus

Disguised Masters

Quite a queer specimen, these Arcturus people are what I’d call part of a new surrealist movement like that which occurred during WWI. I can just imagine Jean Cocteau and Paul Valéry and Pablo Picasso and Ivar Stravinsky all sitting around a Parisian salon, attended by dozens of pubescent boys, smoking opium and stroking their ivory canes, saying, “This new collection from Arcturus and the Deception Masters is quite formidable, but perhaps a bit grandiloquent” - in French, of course. But what do they know? They’re dead and anyway if they were alive today they’d all have AIDS and would have probably fried their brains from dropping too much acid - Arcturus is named after a giant fixed star in the Boötes constellation. It comes from the Greek “Arktouros”, and the word means “bear watcher.” In the liner notes of this release we are warned that, “This is not the new Arcturus album. It is a collection of oddities conceived in the period after ‘La Masquerade Infernale’”, which is actually the name of track #6 on this CD that is not an album. While the lyrics are mostly in English, it would be impossible to decipher them, so I have no idea what these songs are about. The only song for which lyrics are given is Track #2, which talks about things like, “If beauty was hurt like children naked and misused”, and “shadows of a greater joy while moralist angels prepare their heavenly cocktail lounge.” The cover art, which opens out into a ten-page accordion spread, is equally inexplicable and would make Salvador Dali proud, despite having the slight feel of a community college graphic design project from the 1980s. If I had to harbor a guess as to the meaning behind this “collection of oddities”, it would be the destruction of old illusions in favor of the new zeitgeist. But no matter. The most interesting thing about this release is the music itself. These mavericks boldly venture into terra incognita with a peculiar and divergent mix of various styles, and I hope I’m not offending anyone when I use words like “techno”, “industrial”, and of course, the dreaded “black metal.” But the reality of this recording goes far beyond that, as Arcturus proves that they’re not afraid to do anything. For instance, Track #9, “Ad Astra”, has a pulsating rave beat and a female “New School” R & B vocals that could easily have been provided by Toni Braxton. there’s even some rap on track #7, “Master of Disguise”, and in the notes they credit “S.C.N.” for the “Phantom FX remix w/gangstafications.” Nordic rap is certainly unnerving and completely unexpected (as was the violin section in this song), but not at all without merit. All things considered, a very creative effort, not bad for a non-album. If I had to give these guys some advice, I’d suggest that they collaborate with Beck and the Pet Shop Boys on the next one. Well done.

Buy Disguised Masters at amazon.co.uk

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