All around the world: Arcane

Sun, sea, surf and prog – Australia’s got it all. From Karnivool to Dead Letter Circus via the travelling ProgFest, there’s a real treasure trove of progressive music to entertain those Down Under. Like so many areas around the world, it can be tough for those acts that don’t fit neatly into the more commercial rock and pop genres.

However, prog seems to be enjoying another renaissance in Oz, with a small but loyal scene made up of bands that support each other, and fans who are prepared to travel outside their home towns to attend shows and festivals.

Arcane know all about that loyalty. Their third album, the double-disc Known/Learned, was financed through an incredibly successful crowd-funding campaign that saw them reach their $10,000 target in just three days. “I was speechless,” reveals Jim Grey. “I’d been taking deep breaths as I announced that the campaign was about to start, so when the pledges came rolling in, it was unbelievable. It was a reminder that we have a strong following out there, people that love what we do and want to be a part of making it possible.”

Known captures the five-piece at their progressive metal best, but it’s Learned that gives them the chance to step outside their comfort zone. “I’ve always been a fan of traditional folk and soft female vocals,” says Grey, “so a lot of that has to do with my vocal approach to the softer album.”

Both discs embrace human themes, encompassing love, loss and family, with recurring characters. The results are lyrically melancholic and musically intense, and include contributions from former live member Brendon Blanchard.

Although they officially formed in 2004, the Arcane boys have known each other for far longer and have other musical side projects as well. Grey is in Caligula’s Horse, while guitarist Michael Gagen plays with post-rock outfit Hazards Of Swimming Naked, and alongside keyboard player Matt Martin in Echotide. Drummer Blake Coulson is in Polaroid Bag and new live bassist Adrian Goleby plays lead guitar in Irukandji. It’s no wonder their latest album took the best part of six years to make!

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Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.