ASFTD #358: Arc Iris – Kaleidoscope

Arc Iris are back with a recently released new single and a soon-to-be released new album. The single is ‘Kaleidoscope’, the album is Moon Saloon.

‘Kaleidoscope’ is an adventure and as Stereogum expertly described it “melds syncopated boom-bap drums, multi-layered classical flourishes, wandering synths, ringing guitars and Adams’ pure, beautiful voice for a constantly reengaging, regenerative excursion.

The three piece, fronted by Jocie Adams, will always hold a special place in my heart thanks to the fact that Adams was the first person I ever interviewed.

Listen to the track while reading more about Moon Saloon, released on August 19th through Bella Union, below.

Arc Iris will also be touring the UK through October.

Moon Saloon constitutes a natural progression from the whimsical explorations of the band’s debut album. Produced by the group and mixed by electronic producer David Wrench of FKA Twigs and Caribou fame, the album showcases beat-heavy melodies and textural, groove-riding rhythms. It developed from the band’s distillations of musical influences, combining traditional elements with percussive structures and dense, beguiling harmonies. In many ways this second album captures Arc Iris’ musical odyssey as a band. “It has a heavier sound, more intense,” says Arc Iris keyboardist Zach Tenorio-Miller, who makes liberal use of sampling in many of the songs. The group matches an unusual array of organic acoustic instruments with layered electronic sounds.

Lead singer and lyricist Jocie Adams, Tenorio-Miller, and drummer Ray Belli form the core of Arc Iris, all virtuosic musicians in their own right. Adams spent eight years as a key member of indie darlings The Low Anthem, effortlessly zipping from hammer dulcimer to clarinet to bass to vocals, sometimes barely pausing to take a breath. As the band members see it, “Moon Saloon” works like a song cycle that parallels the arc of Everyman’s passage through modern day dilemmas.

Adams wrote most of the songs during a songwriting retreat on an island in New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee several months before the recording session. For Adams, it was a week-long creative rush with no electricity, no running water, no cell phones—just a bed in a cabin and an acoustic guitar. She took her work back to Providence, where she and Tenorio-Miller worked on the songs, layering sounds, developing ideas, “transforming them into the world of Arc Iris,” Tenorio-Miller recalls.

Arc Iris have attracted fans around the world as the group’s stage performances become storied events themselves. Space domes reveal giant golden wings in flight while montages light up the backdrop with evocative images. Above all, the group’s love of music is a shared passion that comes alive with each song.