Arc Lab

Arc Lab“…one of the most original releases in the IDM field in some time…confounding the set-in-stone rules of a stagnant IDM genre” [sic] Magazine on The Goodbye Radio

Eschewing easy genre classification, Medard Fischer’s output as Arc Lab effectively blends IDM’s technical sophistication with the moving and poignant character of neo-classical ambience and a finely tuned ear for electroacoustic pop. His new album, Anthem (2016), folds classic analogue timbres and detuned FM ambience into fragmented radio broadcasts, forgotten NASA program materials and layers of deep space noise, creating music that is, by turns, menacing and contemplative, forbidding and epic.
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July 2016

After years away, Medard Fischer’s Arc Lab project returns with Anthem, a retrofuturistic sci-fi travelogue. Folding classic analogue timbres and detuned FM ambience over fragmented radio broadcasts, forgotten NASA program materials and layers of deep space noise, Anthem is in turns menacing and contemplative, forbidding and epic. The album shifts between claustrophobic tension and widescreen, cinematic expanse. Crushes of static and thundering percussion sit alongside diminutive synth studies, all plotted against an almost palpable narrative of anxiety, struggle and, ultimately, salvation. It’s the grandeur of classic space opera, refracting darkly through a contemporary lens.


Arc Lab is Hidden Shoal artist Medard Fischer’s primary vehicle for musical experimentation – a blank-slate platform on which he has released a diverse catalogue of emotive, conceptual work. We last heard from Arc Lab in 2008, with the release of The Goodbye Radio (n5MD), an album described as “‘genre-defying’ or, perhaps most appropriately, ‘genre-transcending’” (Textura) and as “one of the most original releases in the IDM field in some time” and “downright ingenious” ([sic] Magazine). As suggested by its cryptic title, The Goodbye Radio was heavily driven by internal narrative, with thematic touchpoints including early space exploration and relativistic physics. Fischer’s latest full-length Anthem (2016), and his first for Hidden Shoal, continues the story, marking another chapter in an alternative arc of history only hinted at in buried audio fragments, track titles and structures. The result is essential Arc Lab – evocative and compelling pieces rich with meaning and purpose.



  • Medard Fischer “Lucky You” Reviewed at EtherREAL

    [Translated from the French via Google]

    “Re-appeared after seven years without news last year with an album of Arc Lab, Medard Fischer also starts publishing under his own name, still on Hidden Shoal Recordings he had already joined for his other project, and still in digital version only. For this release, the Australian abandons the neo-classic that he had indulged in the past, to embrace a beautifully enveloping electronica-ambient, made of superposition of tablecloths able to mislead the listener in their intertwining.

    Eager to play on the somewhat random character of combinations that can give the simultaneous presence of different components, Medard Fischer manages to create meetings capable of instilling an atmosphere between relaxation and a mini-vertigo ( No Input ). While the virtual absence of rhythm could give rise to fear of a form of evanescence a little too pronounced, the addition of some micro-saturations or “electronic winds” ( You Can not Be Gone If You Were Never Anywhere To Start , Pretty title besides) brings more consistency to his compositions.

    The piano can also reappear, to confer a different color, more free in its style of play ( Fundamentals ) or much richer in melodic contribution ( Measured Time ), just as some electronic chromatic scraps know how to pull the set to a look more childish ( Everything Will Become Light Some Day ) or that features seem comparable to those of a guitar treated (the title track). This series of descriptions shows that, while maintaining a good homogeneity, Medard Fischer succeeds in diversifying its purpose, by the grace of sufficiently varied materials from one title to another.”


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  • “Eat Your Friends” Compilation Reviewed at DOA

    “Over almost a decade, Hidden Shoal records developed a reputation as a consistently innovative and experimental music label, giving to us music of remarkable qualities whether it was the instrumental excursions of Gilded, the blissed-out indie of My Majestic Star, the electronica of Marcus Mehr, the alt.folk stylings of Kramies – the HSR list of significant talents was a lengthy one. I say was, as in 2014 or thereabouts, the Hidden Shoal label underwent a reorganisation of sorts, and it began to seem that one of the more influential Australian record labels of the recent past was itself going into hiding. Perhaps so, although only to return refreshed, renewed, invigorated and with its varying artistic visions intact – the Eat Your Friends compilation proves that the Hidden Shoal label is properly with us again.

    One thing I’ve found when reviewing compilations is that not infrequently, when I put them into my music players, the tracks separate instead of remaining in their album folder, and that has happened with my copy of Eat Your Friends, encouraging me to view each of the tracks as a single release rather than view the album itself as a cohesive whole. Then there’s the fact that only some of its contributors are already known to me and so, ditching some of my preconceptions about what it’s going to sound like, I began listening to the 11 tracks in a random sequence, and prepared for the unexpected.

    Firstly, there’s singer/songwriter Erik Nilsson’s “Moksha Can Wait”, a song which electronic composer Marcus Mehr has taken and adapted to his subtly developed production sound, a track that begins almost inaudibly and builds to a staggering crescendo of soaring, roaring electronic sound and with Nilsson’s guitar and piano providing a counterpoint to Mehr’s swirling atmospherics. The ambient chill of City Of Satellites is given an added gloss by Tim Manzano, although I’m not so sure what he’s actually done with the track – it does sound a lot like the City Of Satellites I know from their Machine Is My Animal album, although as the track progresses and the rhythm and bass begin to disintegrate into a dubby conclusion it seems more apparent where Manzano has left his mark. Arc Lab’s “Through The Burning Glass” is remixed by Glanko, beginning with a club-level bassline before levelling into a noir tinged synth epic. And just when you thought the tracks on Eat Your Friends were entirely instrumentals, Rew perform a cover version of Umpire’s “Green Light District” and they do it with a vocal, alongside the strings and crashing cymbals and haltingly uncertain rhythms, a highlight of an album each of whose tracks is in one or another way remarkable.”


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  • Arc Lab “Anthem” Reviewed at EtherReal

    “No news of Fischer Medard (either under his own name or through one of his other projects) since 2009, was as pleased as surprised to learn that reactivated his alias Arc Lab for a new album. Published in digital only, Hidden Shoal, this long-format allows the player to return to the electronic land (after the neoclassical interlude constituted by the EP under his own name) and even back even further back, since the thirteen songs on the album work in a somewhat dated register, marked by the presence of synths and rhythmic supported.

    As such, the first are sometimes a bit “mushy” seeking a “psyche” inheritance (WVVS, All These Worlds Are Yours) while the latter occasionally venturing into more techie shores or if parent and saturations distortions (Boundary). Fortunately Medard Fischer knows, each time offset these tendencies by adding a lighter melody sounds more air or a more impulsive musical phrase (Through The Burning Glass, Tidal, M-Set). Similarly, the introduction in the middle of album, a short track mainly played the piano, provides a form of welcome breathing (Aurora Signals).

    Other items from breaking the continuum in place, sound clips from NASA and old radio programs conversations are used both as voice materials as sources of crackling and additional fragmentations (Necessary Concepts, The Refracting Glass). The assembly then enrolled in this announcement that Arc Lab as a “science-fictional travel retrofuturist” way to confirm that the musician look both behind and in front of him, bit obvious but overall successful year.”


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  • Arc Lab “Anthem” Reviewed at Luna Kafe

    “Arc Lab is the project of Canadian artist Medard Fischer (who has also been recording under his own name, check f.i. Four Songs for the City of New York). Fischer has also been working in the duo Down Review. However, Anthem sees Fischer return to his Arc Lab sound laboratory, as it’s been eight years since the last Arc Lab full-length album, 2008’s The Goodbye Radio (for the n5MD label). The Goodbye Radio was described as ‘genre-defying’ or ‘genre-transcending’ (by Textura Magazine, Canada) and as ‘one of the most original releases in the IDM field in some time’ and ‘downright ingenious’ ([sic] Magazine, Belgium). So, zip your Launch Entry Suit, put your helmet on, buckle up, and get ready for countdown, ignition and launch.

    Arc Lab’s new album, the fourth in the Arc Lab discography, has been tagged ‘a retrofuturistic sci-fi travelogue’ by the Hidden Shoal label. Throughout the almost hour-long Anthem, the Arc Lab multistage rocket presents us for its 13 tracks deep into the electro-ambient outer fields. This is minimalist electronic dance music with brains and substance, given us through a string of chapters: “The Golden Record”; “W V V S”; “Through the Burning Glass”; “New Frontiers”; “Boundary”; Aurora Signals”; “Tidal”; Necessary Concepts”; “See You There”; “Broadcast 1,679”; “M-Set”; “The Refracting Glass”; “All These Worlds Are Yours”. It sounds like an epic journey, right? Fischer lists a long line of artists as his influences, such as Steve Reich, Henryk Górecki, Boards of Canada, Autechre, Underworld, Plaid, The Notwist, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, DJ Koze [who recently played Oslo’s ØYA festival] to name but a few. According to Hidden Shoal, Arc Lab ‘effectively blends IDM’s technical sophistication with the moving and poignant character of neo-classical ambience and a finely tuned ear for electroacoustic pop.’ This depicts the sound of Anthem quite good. Arc Lab’s contemporary ambient tracks flows and circles nice and sweet, making little dance moves within their discreet poppiness. To quote the label once more, Anthem holds ‘classic analogue timbres and detuned FM ambience over fragmented radio broadcasts, forgotten NASA program materials and layers of deep space noise’, and the album is in turns ‘menacing and contemplative, forbidding and epic, [and the album] shifts between claustrophobic tension and widescreen, cinematic expanse.’ In short: ‘Anthem is the grandeur of classic space opera, refracting darkly through a contemporary lens.’ An artist’s/band’s record label is of course highly subjective and indeed positive when describing, selling their product, but in Anthem‘s case i just nod and agree. This is a way cool, beautiful and enchanting record. From the opening “The Golden Record” all the way through to the closing “All These Worlds Are Yours”.

    Fischer’s Lab presents pieces and fragments puzzled together throughout complex structures and patterns, ending as something substantial and solid. Solid as gold. Sometimes it is meaningless to try to mark out highlights (even though “W V V S” and “Through the Burning Glass” make a fine stretch together, while “Boundary” and “Tidal” are a couple of others standing out). This is such a case. Anthem is a 13-track-travel to listen through from start to finish. Some tracks are longer, some tracks are shorter. Together they make a totality, a whole. Anthem feels tense, relaxed, groovy, laidback, engaging, challenging and chilling at the same time. Like Hidden Shoal states: ‘The result is essential Arc Lab – evocative and compelling pieces rich with meaning and purpose.’ I second that.”

    Luna Kafe

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  • Arc Lab ‘Through The Burning Glass’ Reviewed at The Sunday Experience

    “i’m picking up Boards of Canada in a love in with Plaid happenings here and I’m cranking up the head phones and falling deep into wave forming wooziness, frankly it’s all too irresistible. This sound heads, is a teaser taste from a forthcoming Hidden Shoal lovely by Arc Lab entitled ‘through the burning glass’ – a single in fact culled from a planned ‘Anthem’ full length due sometime July end. To the emergence of oncoming pulsing shimmer tones, a stately alignment is forged whereby celestial fanfares tap out their love noted siren calls across the galactic voids much like a heavenly cavalry heading over the cosmic hills led from the fore by a bliss bathed Battles festooned in kosmiche kisses fired upon the hypnotic purr of motorik murmurs.”

    The Sunday Experience

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  • Arc Lab ‘All These Worlds Are Yours’ Reviewed at The Sunday Experience

    “Mentioned Arc Lab a few weeks ago in readiness of a forthcoming release entitled ‘Anthem’ through hidden shoal due July end, not that I’m suspecting you need nudges or the slight arm twist of persuasion but another of its gems has been leaked with the appearance on our listening radar of ‘all these worlds are yours’. As though emerging from the dark side of slo-mo docking alignment of Warm Digits and Art of the Memory Place types, this divinely demurred slice of starry eyed dreaminess is showered in the seductive spray of sonic sun spotting activity all propelled and purred by the head bowed grace fall of vintage kosmiche.”

    The Sunday Experience


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  • Arc Lab “The Goodbye Radio” Reviewed at Textura

    “Medard Fischer’s third Arc Lab album ranges so widely, it invites descriptors such as “genre-defying” or, perhaps most appropriately, “genre-transcending.” Some common threads do run throughout, however, one in particular being the material’s oft-classical feel. And if the tracks do feel somewhat classical in spirit, they should as Fischer based their structures on the sonnet form. In many pieces, multiple vocal and instrumental melodies interlock in intricate and graceful counterpoint, and often the compositions feel reminiscent of gamelan and Asian music in their clockwork rhythms and overall delicacy. Though piano is the nucleus, the arrangements are rich in evocation, something that also doesn’t surprise given that Fischer works field recordings, radio noise, male and female vocals, and bits and pieces of ancient recordings into the material’s fabric.

    There’s much high-caliber music-making on display, with its emotive electronic character representative of n5MD in general. Following an overture of electroacoustic haze (“Transients”), the album proper ensues with the melancholic piano-based ballad “The Secret Lives of A.C. Wuornos” (yes, the serial killer) whose haunting effect is undercut slightly by the robotic filtering of the vocal (“I am the movie with no sound / I am the girl you dream about”). Other highlights include “Reflexives,” an impressive two-part composition that begins as a classical sounding piano-and-strings setting before turning pensive in part two and gradually evolving into a gamelan-flavoured setting for mallet instruments, and “Departure Music Part One,” featuring an arresting mix of harp, glockenspiel, acoustic bass, and even castanets. Memorable vocal pieces appear too, specifically the elegant ballad “Small Numbers” and “I Wish I Could Tell You,” whose melancholic electro-pop style brings Styrofoam to mind.

    Might this be Fischer’s adieu, as the album title suggests? Stay tuned…”


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  • Arc Lab “The Goodbye Radio” Reviewed at [sic] Magazine

    “Though Arc Lab’s 2007 release “No Spectre” displayed potent levels of production prowess, the emotional aspects one has come to expect from an n5MD release didn’t quite reach the same mark. On his second outing for the Californian imprint, Torontonian Medard Fischer has struck the perfect balance between the two aspects, authoring a certain career best piece of work, if not one of the most original releases in the IDM field for some time. “The Goodbye Radio” runs very much like the title suggests, as if Fischer is slowly guiding us through a variety of channels or stations on the radio spectrum. Confounding the set-in-stone rules of a stagnant IDM genre, hisses of static, soft piano sonnets, distant, grainy monologues and tranquil orchestral segments all weave their way throughout Fischer’s rich, intricate tapestry. To say the variety on the 50+ minutes of music here is remarkable would be doing Arc Lab a disservice. The way so many styles are uniquely incorporated is downright ingenious. “Transients” establishes the mood early on mixing radio interference with grainy, melodious drones, soft twilight tones and indecipherable speech, as if the radio dial has absent-mindedly been left between stations. From there, Fischer ushers us towards the serene pairing of “Reflexives Part 1 & Part 2”. The first part introduces a soft piano led melody and sombre orchestration, while it’s accompanying second part finds Fischer adding subtle electronics and soulful chimes and tones. In keeping with the radio concept, “Song for Oleg” is a haunting electro pop number, as Fischer spins that dial towards a style that vaguely resembles his label mate Tobias Lilja. While, “I Wish I Could Tell You” pleasingly mixes chilled male/female vocals with a velvet synth backdrop to produce what can only be described as the album’s radio friendly unit shifter. The fact that these differing styles are seamlessly blended is testament to Fischer’s production capabilities. A lesser musician may well have folded under such an ambitious concept. Given these sentiments, the strange “Recidivist Waltz”, a medieval sounding harpsichord piece, and the poignant “Like Conquistadors”, augment the overall flow rather than hinder. If anything, they add a personal touch, as if Fischer has invited us to trawl through his listening habits. As the closing number “Departure Music” fades into quiet, the only cause for concern on this release is possibility of a cryptic message in the album title (and indeed the last track). On this form, we really can’t afford to lose Arc Lab.”

    [sic] Magazine

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  • Arc Lab ‘I Wish I Could Tell You’ Reviewed at XLR8

    “Medard Fischer was initially motivated by architecture to begin the Arc Lab project and wrote songs as “musings on the interplay between structurally defined space and musical expression,” by his own admission. On Fischer’s third full-length, The Goodbye Radio, the aim might be less esoteric but the songs are more focused. The tracks put layers of warm synths and drifting beats under an echoing fog of Fischer’s melancholy vocals. Walking the line between IDM and indie-pop like Figurine, Arc Lab splits Fischer’s personality between aural architect and laptop troubadour. ”


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  • Arc Lab “The Goodbye Radio” Reviewed at Sound Projector

    “It’s a huge step forward, synthetic elements only serve as the auxiliary material to realize the ideas of the musician and to support the acoustic line. Despite the discrepant feelings, open conventionality of the sound, the album doesn’t lose its originality. The unique content was influenced by original interlacement of influences, the basic element of which is the space program of the USSR, the most well-known female serial murderer Aileen Wuornos and parting with the close friend. Complicated, wide range of styles and various methods. They are all connected by a tiny undistinguished line – general mood of eternal melancholy, characteristic rhythmics of clockwork and characteristic features of a sonnet – creative crisis? Such an amalgamation of different incomparable stylistic influences was first thought off by Medard, but had never been represented in such a way before.

    Sincere vocalisms and instrumental melodies chain up together into one intricate and elegant counterpoint. The album starts with the overture of touching electroacoustic fog with its own emotions (“Transients”). “Reflexives I” is a rather impressive play – mutiny of classic sound textures of piano and violoncello.
    “Song for Oleg” and “I Wish I Could Tell You” is some kind of ‘experimental electo-pop’, perhaps the most powerful part of this album, this emotional splash makes you feel, recollect something, regret… Great combination of all the elements of the complicated engineer construction with a wide spectrum of human feelings. Warm southern elements from the composition “Departure Music Part One” are like the ikebana on an oak-tree, perfect instrumental content – harp, acoustic bass and castanets, amazing and beautiful. The Goodbye Radio is the old ‘house’ of memories without doors and windows.”

    Sound Projector

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Arc Lab’s music is  available for licensing (master & sync cleared) through Hidden Shoal. Please contact us with some basic details about your project and the track(s) you wish to use and we’ll be sure to get back to you straight away.