minorarc album review


MinorArc album artwork

The debut MinorArc album is available now.

Check out Sean of APR‘s review here.

…or hear for yourself and stream it for free from here.

Minorarc: Review by Sean Cooper (Alternate Parallel Reality)


Sean Cooper has a very diverse musical background and has spent many years producing, supporting, reviewing and releasing music. From the long-ago days of major Australian band Tainted Violets, through to operating the independent label Zeitgeist Records, and his current project Alternate Parallel Reality, he is well known amongst the underground music community for his honesty, analysis and ability to write… long, in-depth and powerful rants about music, the industry, and above all his love of the sonic artform. We thank Sean deeply for taking the time to review the first Minorarc album, and thank him for his eternal support of so many musicians choosing to self-release over the years.


Sometimes an artist just has to look at their body of work and ask themselves if they’re using the best tools for the job, in terms of expressing their message. Sometimes that means a radical and extreme reinvention. Like Rimbaud, who left behind a prestigious and respected career as the most talented and promising poet of his day to become a pirate and gun runner (“this is my poetry now!”), Ivan Bullock has shed his skin and assumed an extreme new form. He decided he’d taken his former project Mystral Tide, known for it’s lush grandiose Gothic introspection, and assumed the identity of Minorarc… which is darker and considerably more menacing. The beauty has become the beast.

That’s not to say that Ivan’s turned his back on what he does best. You’ll still hear the expansive piano, the ethereal pads, syncopated percussion and elegant use of fade-in and fade-out. Tracks are still gothic in tone, operatic in structure and monumental in scope.

It’s mostly the attitude that’s changed. Where Mystral Tide lamented the human condition, Minorarc willingly embraces it. Where Mystral Tide was an archeological project, looking back and deeper for meaning, Minorarc braces itself and casts it’s hungry gaze to the future. Where Mystral Tide stared into the abyss, Minorarc jumps right in…

And what we end up with is an ambitious and impressive debut album that’s one of the deepest and most interesting I’ve heard all year. Featuring by Ben from Cassandra’s Myth and Brett from Sarcophony, we have a long-player that ranges from the classically ambient to the menacingly metallic – with touches of futuristic electronica and even the occasional hint of rap – though we’re not talking about anything gangsta…. recall the kind of vocals Love And Rockets employed on ”**** (Jungle Law)” or the vocal styles of some early Sister Machine gun tracks, and you’ll get the picture. Trust me, it fits perfectly.

To this Mystral Tide fan, it feels more like a natural progression than a complete makeover. When I first heard preview snippets of the new material, I thought about the difference between Carl Mcoy’s Fields Of The Nephilim and his much-harder Nefilim line-up. In fact, I thought a lot of the guitars, bass and vocals recalled and reflected this sound (though Mystral/Minorarc has a very different aesthetic, philosophy and dimensions given by pianos and classical influences that mark out Ivan’s work as unique). I know the last few discs have been mostly ambient, but if you’ve seen Ivan crank up the amplifier and jam along to Strapping Young Lad, you’ll know that the gothic ambience and atmospheres conceal a heart of metal.

Truthfully, and Ivan might not like me for saying this, I feel that the Minorarc album is everything I wanted the last two MT albums to be, and more. Mystral Tide releases are consistently good and I would recommend anyone with good taste in music to get themselves at least one or two in their CD collection… but while I feel that each release was improving, they weren’t evolving like I wanted them to. I yearned for the daring next step, the next chapter, the new insights and newer techniques. I didn’t want MT doing the same thing only better – I wanted signifiers of growth. I wanted a brave new vision. With Minorarc, I got my wish, with interest.

I won’t do a track-by-track review, because I loathe that reviewing style (which never fails to ruin the album for me, and reminds of people who evaluate a movie for you by telling you everything that happens in it. Not only do you get their second-hand surface-level insight, but they’ve also managed to rob you of the discovery and the secrets). What I’ll tell you is that we have an extremely ambitious and daring debut album that stands alone stylistically with all the gothic grandiosity you’ve loved before, but effortlessly fuses a harder edge (both attitudinally and sonically) and futuristic electronics to come up with a listening experience that you’d expect from darkwave legends at the peaks of their careers.

It’s sounds great too. It’s polished, with all the production skills Ivan’s refined over the years. It’s quite an accomplishment to make a new musical identity and give it both cred and a unique voice while still making it sound like an experienced established act that’s well and truly found it’s voice and mastered it’s craft. Minorarc is an embodiment of this principle, though.

Even though I’m reminded of classic recordings by Nefilim, Sex Gang Children, Velvet Acid Christ, nobody sounds quite like Minorarc. Nobody’s doing what Ivan and his cohorts are doing here. And somehow this brave new voice has produced a debut album that sounds like the peak of a career. I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic in the least when I say that the Minorarc album is a future classic that all goth, darkwave and industrial fans will want to have in their CD collections.

Did I mention that it comes with remixes that rock? I’m not just saying that because my own remix of In Prime is on there (and, IMHO, the best remix work I’ve ever done), but extremely good mixes from Milkrun and Nigel Moore appear to make this a very worthy release indeed.

If I sound like I’m excited by this album, you’d be very right. One of my favourite artists (and good friend) has made something that’s impressed the hell out of me. And considering the high expectations I’ve learned to have for his work, that’s quite something. I’m spending a lot of time listening to the Minorarc album, and I think you should too.

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