With an initial resemblance to children’s storybooks-on-tape via its calm, purposeful vocals over a minimal musical soundscape, The Arrow: A Story In Seven Parts is at its base that very idea. After touring this concept for five years or so, collaborators Trey Gunn (King Crimson) and Joe Mendelson (Rise Robot Rise) have released their first full multimedia project.
Expectedly, this isn’t in the same genre as a Disney radio experience. The spoken word lines aren’t delivered insipidly, but rather with personality. Over its ingenious, genreless soundscapes that utilize tribal rhythms, 12-tone jazz and Eno- esque washes by way of Gunn’s touch guitar, various laptops electronics and more, the story of The Arrow opens up gradually. Hypnotic and gripping, the voices (of which there are many, one per chapter, but mostly Mendelson) can seize the listener from the airy climate created texturally, but despite this, it takes repeated, concentrated listens to take in the piece and its dense tale.
But the audio aspect of The Arrow is only part of what Quodia have created. Mixed in 5.1, the DVD portion of the set includes a psychedelic but descriptive visual accompaniment to the seven part story. Intentionally vague and color-coordinated to allow the listener to inject further meaning into the story, it’s perhaps the only way to properly understand what Gunn and Mendelson are stating, as words are added to the visual experience, sometimes the lyrics, sometimes only related.
The story? Much like its music and its visuals, The Arrow is intensely layered and intricate, but open-ended enough to leave much of it up to interpretation. Derived from various archetypes, Celtic, Greco-Roman, aboriginal, etc., the story is an examination of human strengths and weaknesses told in a unique, compelling medium of its own.
In A Word: Encompassing