Diane Arkenstone,
Aquaria: A Liquid Blue Trancescape
(Neo Pacifica, 2001)

There was a time in my life when I really enjoyed the music of Enigma. Its mix of ancient chants and other timeless sounds with modern electronic sounds was both soothing and exciting, and for a time I thrilled to the experience. But after a while I grew tired of the sameness of the sound -- whether that be the music's fault or my own I don't know, and it doesn't really matter in the end. I never questioned the musical talent at work on Engima's recordings; it was simply no longer for me.

Perhaps that's why I have some hesitation in admitting that Aquaria: A Liquid Blue Trancescape by Diane Arkenstone, quite honestly, bored me. It's probably not Arkenstone's fault, because there is undeniably some talent at work here. And the electronic music is soothing, flowing over the listener like calm waters.

But I can't shake the feeling that you could release this album with Enigma on the cover, rather than Arkenstone, and no one could tell the difference. It has the same lush soundscapes, the repetitive loops and breathy vocals that made Enigma sound so unique. Unfortunately, it's not so unique when someone else has done it, and done it well, already. And it strikes me that Arkenstone's many sighing claims to be the "voice of the sea" are just a little cheesy.

As a good friend of mine often says, you'll like this if you like this sort of thing. Diane and her writing partner and husband David Arkenstone have expended a great deal of talent on this album, but if Enigma doesn't excite you, Aquaria probably won't, either.

review by
Tom Knapp

8 September 2007

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