Letters From A Lost Soul – Act I: The World One Forms is the latest progressive offering from Calgary-based artist Arcana. Clocking in at just under 22-minutes, this concept piece introduces you to the story of Damian, who is trying to mend his life and relationship with his wife and daughter in the wake of a mysterious tragedy, according to composer Rogan McAndrews. One would think that 22-minutes should be ample time for a precursory glimpse into McAndrews’ intriguing concept, however in reality, the very briefest of glimpses is all one can really hope to expect.
Despite its short runtime, Arcana spend the first two tracks of their 4-track album on an instrumental introduction of sorts that comes off as a little bit too clean – almost clinical, in fact – which ends up seeming far more generic and overproduced than perhaps intended. This is further echoed throughout, with some fair vocal performances (when they finally appear in track 3, that is) by McAndrews and co-vocalist Anna Draper being dashed by poor mixing that leaves them sounding drowned out and powerless against the rest of the production.
That being said, the EP’s sound on the whole is no better, with too much time being spent building up to something that never really comes. Just when you think things are starting to get interesting with the introduction of some heavier riffs in track 4, ‘Octosun/Wings (Reprised)’, it trails off as quickly as it appeared, leaving you back at square one and feeling somewhat cheated by the whole endeavour.
It is overall a very lacklustre experience that could potentially have benefited from an LP format to allow Arcana to adequately convey their concept’s intricate narrative, however as it stands it unfortunately falls quite short. With the general consensus regarding the purpose of an EP being to introduce a band, demonstrate their range and capabilities, and in the process grow their fanbase, it’s hard to say that Arcana has really managed to achieve any of this here. The overly drawn-out nature of the EP, which spends too long on over-the-top melodic introductions and leaves no room for further expression or exhibition of the band’s full potential, all-in-all makes it a tough one to access for new listeners, and is ultimately more likely to simply turn them away in search of something else entirely.