By Keith Johnson, contributing writer

San Francisco Informer

North Bay duo Arcane Dimension will bring their blend of ethereal, ethnic-infused rock music and belly dance to the thirteenth annual Tribal Fest at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center Friday at 4 p.m.

Arcane Dimension are lead vocalist and belly dancer Teresa Camp and her husband, Polish-born multi-instrumentalist Jarek Tatarek whose specialty is the GuitarViol, a unique stringed instrument fretted like a guitar but bowed like a cello. Their self-described style of “Avantgarde World Rock” falls somewhere between Finnish cello rockers Apocalyptica and neoclassical darkwave duo Dead Can Dance with touches of electronica, metal and Middle Eastern music.

According to its website, Tribal Fest celebrates Tribal and Alternative Style belly dance in all its forms including Tribal Fusion, Gothic, and World Fusion and is the largest event of its kind in the world with over 26 countries represented in 2012. 2013 will mark Arcane Dimension’s third Tribal Fest appearance where they’ll premier a new dance piece entitled “Revenge of the Black Widow” inspired by this year’s event theme “Halfway to Halloween”.

“Jarek was finishing up two instrumental songs, ‘The Ghost’ and ‘Metalodic’,” Camp said. “When I heard them I immediately started getting this vision of black widows and that kind of predatory vibe.”

Camp said the dance routine will represent a play between black widows and their prey — with the latter played by Tatarek.

“He’s a knowing prey. He walks into it,” Camp explained. “I don’t want to give it away but by the end the audience is going to be on the edge of their seats seeing if he makes it out or if he ends up on the dinner plate.”

Camp and Tatarek met in 2001 when Camp joined Tatarek’s gothic metal band Halcyon Days as lead vocalist.

“I actually started off playing guitar when I was a teenager. I had wanted to sing but I had very low self-confidence,” Camp said. “But as I started writing songs and coming out of my shell more I really wanted to sing.”

As her confidence grew, Camp realized that she wanted to be a front person.

“That’s when I started auditioning for different bands. Eventually I found Halcyon Days, then I met Jarek.”

Halcyon Days soon broke up, after which the pair formed Arcane Dimension. Their debut album “In Ecstasy & Sorrow” was released in 2005.

“I still hadn’t started dancing at that point,” Camp said. “I always loved to dance and I had taken different kinds of dance but I hadn’t really connected with anything and then shortly after we finished the first album I took a belly dance class and was immediately hooked. I knew this was going to be something I’d be doing for the rest of my life.”

Tatarek’s entrance into the arts occurred in his native Poland.

“I always loved heavy metal music when I was a kid and wanted to play guitar,” Tatarek said. “I played my first show at the age of 15. I formed my own metal band called Ashtaroth in 1988. We got signed very quickly and ended up playing arena shows for up to 10,000 people.”

Despite Ashtaroth’s success, Tatarek decided to try his luck in America and moved to the San Francisco Bay area in 1990. He described the experience as a culture shock due to his exposure to so many musical styles. His tastes expanded to embrace world music artists such as Latin-influenced guitarist Ottmar Liebert, Japanese composer Kitaro, Celtic songstress Loreena McKennit and Dead Can Dance.

“It was just something I listened to but I didn’t know what to do with it,” Tatarek said of his newfound musical interests. “It wasn’t until years later when I discovered the GuitarViol that it all came together. I figured I could do something other than metal.”

Tatarek cited Camp’s encouragement to try something different as key to their joining forces as Arcane Dimension with a new vision combining belly dance with his compositions.

“We had a hard time getting gigs as a metal band and it wasn’t really going anywhere,” Tatarek said. “So when we started what we call now ‘Avantgarde World Rock’ we all of a sudden had different kinds of opportunities to play and it’s been an exciting ride for the past three years.”

“The Ghost” was released on May 14 in honor of Tribal Fest and is available for free download at www.arcanedimension.bandcamp.com. Following Tribal Fest, Camp and Tatarek will begin work on a music video for the song “Atlantis Rising” from their most recent album, “Avantgarden”. The video is expected to be released this July.

To learn more about Arcane Dimension, visit www.arcanedimension.net.

To learn more about Tribal Fest, visit www.blacksheepbellydance.com/tf13.

Arcane Dimension: Avantgarden

Billing itself as "the San Francisco Bay Area premier Avant-garde World Fusion band/performance group," Arcane Dimension certainly sets up high expectation. Fortunately, there's a lot to like on their newest LP, Avantgarden, which blends seductive singing with Middle Eastern timbres and rock intensity. Although there are a lot of contemporary bands more or less following the same path, the album is still enticing (its title alone earns it a point or two).

 

The group formed almost a decade ago and currently consists of Polish-American multi-instrumentalist Jarek Tatarek and two signer/performers, Teresa Camp and Katie Staniszewski. Blending "world fusion, electronic beats, and tribal belly-dance," their core sound (and live set) includes "enchanting female vocals, haunting bowed guitar…hypnotic rhythms, ritualistic elements, one-of-a-kind stage costuming and stage directions, guest musicians, and dancers…" Naturally, Arcane Dimension is probably ten times more intriguing to see as it is to hear; even so, Avantgarden still presents a strong vision by a brilliant, forward-thinking act.

 

From the opening tribal strings, percussion, and sultry vocals of "Beyond the Horizon," listeners are carried away to a majestic, slightly mischievous land. Truthfully, acts like The Gathering and Manooghi Hi immediately come to mind, as do Orphaned Land and parts of Pain of Salvation's BE; however, that doesn't mean that Avantgarden is without its originality and merit. "Love Hypnotique" is layered with beautiful strings and equally enjoyable melodies, while "Garden of Arcade Delights" is much more frantic and affective; it's a great showcase for instrumental prowess, and its recurring motifs are addicting.

 

"The Poem" is a brief interlude made up entirely of intersecting vocals, and it's exceptional. "Atlantis Rising" is easily one of the strongest songs in terms of songwriting and emotion on Avantgarden, while "Music of the Spheres" once again heightens the complexity. "Two Hundred Swords" succeeds because of its elegant acoustic guitar work, while the title track closes the album with a touch of techno and impressive dynamics. It's not a highlight of the record, but it's still provides a sufficient conclusion.

 

Avantgarden would've arguably been more unique a decade or two ago, but it's still extremely striking. The music is superbly organic and melodic, and the singing is simultaneously sexy, sweet, and silky smooth. Best of all, each track offers something different while also feeling perfectly situated within the sequence of the album as a single entity. Arcane Dimension sound confident and classy with every note, and fans of the style will adore what they do here.

 

Arcane Dimension have been reliably putting out great music for years now, but this album really is an accomplishment. Jarek's compositions and masterful GuitarViol playing (it's a custom made bowed guitar) set the perfect sonic backdrop for the soothing, sometimes soaring, and emotive voice of Teresa Camp. Haunting, beautiful, and enlightened, this is perfect music for anyone who needs a reprieve from the chaos and insanity of life in the the digital 21st century. The production, writing, and poetry on this album all combine to make a work of art that can be appreciated by anyone who loves good music, but will be especially enjoyed by those with open hearts and souls longing to hear the sounds of the old world, refreshed and re-imagined for the world we live in today. This one is going to get a lot of playtime at home, in the car, and at parties. And considering this was all self-produced and recorded, it is an absolute validation of the new music business model...artists creating music that is honest, sincere, and uncorrupted by record label big-wigs. There is no lack of quality here... it truly is hypnotic, gorgeous, and fun to listen to...get out your belly dance costumes and set the stage!

Tribal Collaborations!

Well, this week brought my second exciting transatlantic delivery ...... my new 'Tribal Collaborations' CD from WildCard Bellydance and Arcane Dimension! To say that it's already been well played would be an understatement - its funky Middle Eastern beats have been flooding the house for several days now, so that even the dogs can now bob their heads in time with the rhythms! I love it!
The music on the cd was especially created with tribal improv in mind and all of the tracks, whether fast or slow, reflect this. As such it's great for drilling to or indeed for performance. The fabulous WildCard girls have already performed to some of the tracks, and we have the You Tubes to prove it! Here's one of them dancing firstly to 'Forbidden Fruit' (my very favourite track from the CD!) and then at the end of the performance to 'Sunset'. Enjoy!

 
Beautiful dancing AND fantastic music! Check out more about WildCard Bellydance on on of our earlier blogs here.

As you'll hear, the music very much mirrors the whole vibe of tribal bellydance. It is strongly rooted in the sounds and traditions of the past, and yet it has a modern, funky twist that shouts out '2012'. There are echoes of times long ago but the music also resounds with the flavours of today. The whole CD just drwas you inexorably, irresistibly, into the dance. And of course that's what it's all about; Sakura have already been gettin' their groove on to some of the tracks at practice this week!

So - favourite tracks? Well, I actually love them all - but my very, very favourite has to be 'Forbidden Fruit' (which you've heard on the You Tube clip above). I think that what really sells that track to me is the chanty singing. It's weird, but it reminds me a bit of a much more tuneful version of the chanting that goes on in the temple scenes in 'Young Sherlock' (one of my favourite films ever). I say 'it's weird' because those particular scenes do freak me out a bit and I usually have to watch them with the sound turned down - and yet, although this track puts me in mind of those scenes, I actually adore it! I also love 'The Flight of Morrigan' with its Celtic feel and the funky grooves of 'Dates & Spices'. Not to mention the deliciously Greek-y 'Feast of Dionysus'. I have to say I had not heard of Arcane Dimension before this project - but I'm certainly going to check out more of their music now!

How can you get hold of your own copy, you ask? Well, it's available as a cd from both the WildCard Bellydance site here and from the Arcane Dimension site here. You can listen to samples of all the tracks on these sites, so that you know what you're buying, and also find out more about both the dancers and musicians. The album is also available for download on Amazon. If you want to keep updated with all the current news then also check out Facebook - Arcane Dimension are here and you'll find the WildCard ladies here.

Really all that's left for me to say now is a huge 'thank you' to both WildCard Bellydance and Arcane Dimension for giving us tribal dancers more fabulously funky music for strutting our stuff to! Hopefully there will be more such collaborations to come in the future!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Thanks to WildCard Bellydance and Arcane Dimension for images in this post.

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