Arnioe – One Before X

For a long time, Arnioe was one of those bands that I kept hearing about, but had never had the opportunity to listen to them. When I was offered the chance to get to hear that this Australian progenitor of ‘renaissance space rock’, I was in a rare spot to have an anticipation and excitement for Arnioe, without having any pre-conceptions about what they were all about. All I knew before going into the band’s latest album ‘One Before X’ was that they were respected and appreciated by the prog rock community. In no short supply of ambition, I can see why Arnioe have garnered their acclaim in retrospect, although I would withhold declaring that Aron Scharfegger and company have yet breached the threshold of real excellence for this sort of music.

Arnioe describes their music as a sort of ‘renaissance space rock’. This term to me first inspires impressions of Italian classicists tripping out on psychedelic substances, but the reality of Arnioe’s music is a little less preposterous. The trend today in modern prog rock has been to focus a little more on the melodic side of things, and although Arnioe covers a fairly wide range of sounds and instruments, melodic songwriting is at the core of what multi-instrumentalist Aron Scharfegger and the band are doing here. The spacious guitar wandering will no doubt draw comparisons with Pink Floyd circa ‘The Wall’, but Arnioe’s sound reminds me most of Peter Gabriel’s post-Genesis career. The lead vocals offered on ‘One Before X’ are quite reminiscent of Gabriel’s more matured, laid-back approach, and the instruments share that much in common. There are a sprinkling of proggier guitar pieces around ‘One Before X’- take the opening riffs for ‘Awaken’ or ‘Eternal Changes’- but a synth- laden softness is the general rule for Arnioe’s music.

As laid-back as Arnioe’s sound is, the prog title is not undeserved. Arnioe earn their keep through the sheer variety of interesting sounds they comfortably fit into the music. There is not a great derivation from the upbeat and dreamlike atmosphere, but the manners in which Arnioe achieve that mood vary quite a bit, whether they’re using spacey electronics, guest saxophone solos, or a more straightforward soft rock sound. It is Arnioe’s consistent vibe that staves off the album’s incoherency, but ‘One Before X’ is not without some significant weaknesses. The compositions tend to get a little too comfortable with themselves, and sparing the exceptional closer ‘IX’, it feels like these songs could have used some rearranging to make them feel more lively throughout. Arnioe’s greatest bane however is the production, which- while not terrible- leaves a lot to be desired, particularly with any higher- quality studio. The mixing has a tendency to obscure the vocals underneath the rest of the music, and, considering that electronic music is such an important part of what Arnioe is doing here, the fact that many of the beat samples feel lifeless hurts the strong human element.

‘One Before X’ does not strike me as excellent, although Arnioe’s stronger suits are ample evidence to justify why I kept hearing about the band. Arnioe’s greatest strength lies in its ambition to experiment with such a variety of different sounds within the course of one album, but as one could anticipate from this approach, it holds the band back from executing any of them with excellence.


1. Awaken 6:36
2. Believe in Something 6:24
3. Cautious Man 6:48
4. Drown the Sorrow 7:39
5. Eternal Changes 7:19
6. From Here to Where 5:36
7. Graceful Exit 3:31
8. How Far to Go 6:18
9. IX 5:21

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