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Favorite ThisLiquid Stranger: The Arcane Terrain Review

Published: May 22, 2011

By: Damian Moran

Martin Staaf has been making music for the better part of a decade, spanning various genres along the way. A mixture of ambient, psychedelic sounds blended with drum ‘n’ bass, reggae, and tribal fusion have been the cornerstone of his style. Vastly different from his most recent album, The Private Riot, which revolved around heavy dubstep dance tracks, The Arcane Terrain returns the listener to Staaf’s roots: tribal drums beats and ambient psychedelic sounds accompanied by the occasional upbeat dub track. There is a little bit of everything in this album as Liquid Stranger collects an eclectic array of beats and melodies from around the globe.

The album opens with “Totem,” a tribal track that sets the course for the rest of the album. Subsequently, Staaf flips into reggae mode, as the next few tracks feature patois’d MCs as well as traditional skanking drum loops. Martin does an excellent job of hypnotizing the listener as the traditional reggae beats unfold. The first track to really capture the traditional reggae aesthetic is “Bombaclaad Star,” featuring a skillful mix of off-kilter drumbeats and dub wobbles, throughout. Subtly, Liquid Stranger transitions into beautifully crafted ambient trance tracks that slip his listeners into a state of utter relaxation. “Overlord” and “Unfold” are psychedelic down tempo tracks that emit an otherworldly ambiance—very stimulating. Much of the album has psychedelic overlays that are crafted into each track, masterfully creating a unique listening experience that made me feel like I was taking a journey with the music. I suppose Martin chose the album name for a reason; quite fitting, indeed.

The album wraps up with a pair of dub hip-hop tracks featuring Killah Priest, KRS-One, Apostle, and Sterolion. Both tracks hold a firm foundation in political ideals. The MCs rhyme about war, world hunger, poverty, and world leaders. An appropriate way to close out an album that has a satisfying layout of sounds and beats stemming from Asian, African, Caribbean, and European culture. Staaf traced his path back to his first three albums to create another affable selection of psychedelic trance accompanied by dub reggae grooves and tribal influence from all over the world.

The Arcane Terrain Mashup