CD, Crunch Pod, 2008
Here comes Ben Arp, one of the busiest guys around in the electronic music scene, with another installation for the C/A/T annals. Arp has been actively releasing material for the last eight years under the C/A/T moniker with a relatively aggressive schedule that seems to average about one new album per year. Keep in mind that this pace is accessory to Arp’s work as the founder of the Crunch Pod record label and you’ve got a recipe for workaholism which seems to serve the artist well although at time it becomes difficult to keep track of all of the releases and side projects.
With “The Great Crisis”, Arp declares the onset of “Phase Two” of C/A/T’s metamorphosis. The album is intended to be the first of three releases over the course of the next two years and it is clear that Arp once again embraced the mode of concept album in order to explore related themes and imagery. Tracks are clustered in groups related to evidence, encounters, escape, and battle data, however, the intent behind the concept was somewhat unclear until promotional information illuminated that the album is intended to be a “soundtrack to an unfilmed scientific disaster”. Admittedly, without this clarification, the song titles might seem somewhat meaningless to the average listener, and perhaps even a bit pretentious. But for those fans familiar with the C/A/T modus operandi, comprehension is a welcome challenge.
This is a sonic, polished Arp. While the classic C/A/T sound is still present, overall, “The Great Crisis” tends to sound a touch more refined than previous releases. I suspect that Arp had fun with this one; instead of sticking within one genre, the signature sound occasionally flirts with dance floor friendly EBM elements in tracks such as “Battle Data > 51X 67424” and “Evidence 699”. “Escape Wooded Area #6432” distinctly reminds this reviewer of late model Grendel and “Battle Data > 51X 943” is a good time despite the requisite air raid sirens towards the end of the track. “Encounter X4I” is a most enjoyable deviation and features funky trip hop elements and a grinding mid-sequence break ala Displacer. While there isn’t a proliferation of similarity which creates cohesion from track to track it still works quite well as a whole. The only headscratcher was the unnecessary and disjointed “End of Recording” which begged for further exploration even in its finished state.
Fortunately, the album ends with “Theme from The Great Crisis”. Its cascading keys and downtempo beats feature some of the best placed samples on the album and became an entirely unexpected favorite. “The Great Crisis” is both a simple machine and the maddening administrator of melodic crunch. C/A/T, you are a hard animal to pin down…
— Shannon Malik