Varien’s debut album ‘The Ancient & Arcane’ is a cinematic masterpiece
Amidst the monotony of endless “superstar” DJ press releases it’s rare to find the raw authenticity of musicianship, but when those select few unrivaled talents pop up like diamonds in the rough, true music fans immediately take notice. Varien is one of those artists. The 25-year-old composer, producer and musician, real name Nick Pittsinger, transcends electronic music with not only his cornucopia of musical styles but his TV and film production and scoring credits on Furious 7, 300: Rise of an Empire, The Purge: Anarchy, The Real World and The Walking Dead. After the Tampa native’s collaborations with mega-talents like Skrillex, Two Steps from Hell and Celldweller, he’s now unveiling his experimental 8-track album debut The Ancient & Arcane via Monstercat, primed to offer listeners an existential experience. “The Ancient & Arcane is really a free flowing amalgamation of influences and inspirations for me that I’ve held true for a long time,” states Pittsinger. “A lot of people will think this is a ‘reinvention of Varien’ when in reality, the genre-less nature of this album in whole is really what I’m all about.” Incorporating elements of Latin jazz, electro swing and Japanese future bass, among others, Varien emblazons his sonic finesse for his premiere full-length body of work.
The album’s intro track “The Ancient & Arcane” instantaneously transports listeners to an alternate dimension with its ambient sorcery and gripping vocals that parlay the track into a vortex of hypnosis.
“Snowlight” embodies all the energy of time and space as a fast-paced percussive tempo and string echoes float between a chopped and airy vocal sample that is prone to trigger those euphoric ASMR tingles.
Trance fans will appreciate “Supercell” featuring vocals from Canadian newcomer Veela whose angelic voice complements the progressive rhythm and piano rolls.
Bits of electro swing, cheeky exotic vocals and a snappy groove give “Transmissions From Lemuria” an other-worldly vibe that presents a futuristic atmosphere similar to what a pool party in outer space might feel like.
“Hypnotique” is appropriately titled as listeners will find it difficult making their way out of this musical reverie. Drum and bass singer Charlotte Haining’s sultry pipes ride the waves of this world music record packed with conga drums, spanish guitar and an exotic international rhythm.
As the album nears its end, we’re able to catch our breath with “Firefly (Intermission)” which seemingly knocks us back down to reality with its ambient sounds and a calm inspiring voice imparting words of wisdom for the come down.
We’ve now landed in a tranquil Japanese garden still surrounded by the same cosmic energy from the previous tracks with “Kamisama” featuring Spanish vocalist Miyoki. Capturing an ethereal effervescence seems natural for Myoki as Varien implements cymbals, gongs and a unique pacing technique of what sounds like a food wrapper being crushed.
It’s time to awaken from your daydream. Enlisting the help of singer-songwriter Laura Brehm, “Ghost Spores” reinvigorates the soul with its harp-tinged melody and orchestral instruments that once again highlight Varien’s idiosyncratic musicianship.