So Far So Good


By Martial, Total Heaven Records Shop (Bordeaux): "I've been waiting for this a while now. Arthur Satan is releasing a solo album on Born Bad; and that's wonderful news. . . The key to this record is in a chest thrown down a well. Rewind back to spring 2010 and remember "Four Naked Sons", with those divine '60s folk songs recorded by Arthur. They already came across as the negatives to his multiple bands -- now they clearly sound like early demos. That plus all the experience and you get today's album. There's this old joke of the guy tumbling down the stairs thinking to himself, at each floor landing: 'So Far So Good'. Less electricity, less noise, more tenderness: yes, the beast can do it. Softness and light, that's what it's about. Who would have thought? Then there's also some beautiful piano... Thanks to his buddy Dorian? Nope. True to himself, Arthur does it all alone. The hefty servings of Mellotron are his, too. And what about the wonderful guitars? Same! And the refined arrangements? The heavenly vocal harmonies? Still him. Le Nain Boit du Vin -- or 'the dwarf drinks wine', Arthur's alias on social media -- is full of surprises indeed. And so is his record. The distinctive backing choirs on 'Free' are reminiscent of an encounter between the Pole Krzysztof Komeda ('Fearless Vampire Killers', the soundtrack of Rosemary's Baby) and the American collective Elephant 6 (Elf Power, Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control). 'The Nap' is tea time: Arthur's the host, John Fahey the guest. 'The Boy In The Frame' is the famous unreleased ballad of the album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Well, well... 'Summer' starts off like a lullaby on the metallophone and evolves into something of a Donovan song, minus the unexpected crankshaft solo. 'Love Bleeds From You Neck' is somewhere between acid folk song and medieval lament. 'It's All The Same' is another surprise, with its modern mix and particularly innovative arrangements. 'Time Is Mine' might be the track most evocative of J.C. Satàn... Though actually all the tracks on So Far So Good hover between tradition and modernity, obscure sunshine pop, good old classics and weird experiments. Before the album's outlandish finale, with Ween's cosmic overture to 'Boredom is Quiet', 'She's Long Gone' will have had time to evoke Brian Wilson's Beach Boys roaming through the English countryside looking for the perfect cottage . . . 'She's Hotter Than The Sun' owes just as much to T. Rex than to the ubiquitous Beatles. For, at last, that's what's so wonderful about pop music: as long as it's made honestly and wholeheartedly, it touches very different people in the same manner..."