Music

Arc Iris Take You to the Moon and Back

Before you grab their new record on August 19, see Arc Iris live at Foo Fest.

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Come August 19, Arc Iris will be taking both our ears and our minds to cosmological heights with their newest album, Moon Saloon. After several years of perfecting, Arc Iris has captured both a sound and concept that will plop you in a whirlwind between reality and your dream world.

Fans have been anxiously waiting for another taste of the Providence-based trio ever since their first self-titled album came out in 2012. Jocie Adams, formerly of The Low Anthem, guides us through Moon Saloon with ethereal ease – her voice melding with harmonious chords played by keyboardist Zach Tenorio-Miller, and even with the rhythms played by drummer Ray Belli. When comparing the two albums, Jocie says that the biggest difference comes from Ray: “[The percussion] is integral and essential. The drumming is more than something that makes the music more exiting – it is melodic.” If anybody has made it possible to harmonize with the drums, it would be these folks.

Moon Saloon layers and combines the sounds of every voice, chord and bang of the drum to create a symphonic experience. Despite Arc Iris’ dabbling in many genres, electronic-pop elements seem to rise above the rest throughout the album. “Sonically, it is a darker sounding record,” describes the Zach. “There’s use of samples, which we’ve never done before, and synthesizers.” When discussing these new elements that have developed their sound, Jocie adds, “I think the synthesizer influence is a big one, too. I don’t know if this translates, but I call them the cooler colors of the synthesizer’s palette.”

The whistles and whirrs of their track “Kaleidoscope” bring Björk to mind, working with the rhythms of sampling and every kind of percussion imaginable. You’ll find yourself riding waves on the uplifting chords of “Paint with the Sun,” and then just as easily be lulled into the dreamlike “She Arose.” All the while, you’ll be following Jocie’s voice with bated.

Not only do Jocie, Zach and Ray showcase their work on more than one instrument, but are also accompanied on tracks by other musicians like Robin Ryczek, Max Johnson on bass, Mike Irwin on trumpet, Charlie Rose on pedal-steel guitar, banjo and trombone, and Martha Guenther’s and Josh Page’s vocals.

As far as live performances go, the trio works along the basis of what they like to call “contemporary improv.” While on the road, the band is made up of only the three founding members. When one might expect a lack thereof sound, Arc Iris makes up for in captivating harmonies and surprises in every show – not to mention an element of theatrics in costume and set design. Don’t be surprised when you end up floating around outside of Earth’s atmosphere when you see them on tour these next couple of months. The single, “Moon Saloon,” might have brought me there already.

Certainly their dynamic musical pasts can be accredited, but it is the live magic that happens between the members of Arc Iris that create nothing short of enchantment Moon Saloon.