June 21, 2012

Review: Arc In Round | Arc In Round

Philadelphia-based Arc In Round's forthcoming full-length collection ensconces the progressive dream pop heroes within the pantheon of top-tier, contemporary shoegaze acts while further illuminating aspects of its craft. The self-titled effort, available June 26th via La Société Expéditionnaire, combines some of the best tracks from the prior EPs II and Diagonal Fields with new material to form a cohesive set featuring fronter and guitarist Jeff Zeigler, co-vocalist/instrumentalist Mikele Edwards, bassist Josh Meakim and drummer Matt Ricchini's singular brand of shoegaze. Arc In Round was a long time coming, but it was definitely worth the wait.

The new set opens with the snare-heavy blast of "II," which showcases a prominent dimension of the Arc In Round aesthetic: effected, quickly strummed guitars play against shifting time signatures, while Zeigler and Edwards' low harmonies recall the perfectly-stirred and effeminate vocal union of My Bloody Valentine. Album highlight "Spirit," one of the best cuts from Diagonal Fields, projects a strong bass-heavy groove to buoy an upper-atmosphere dance with the muse of the Dirty Projectors. Impressively, the emotional timbre of Edwards' lead vocal here so closely mirrors Zeigler's more spectral voice that at times hers seems like a pitch-shifted copy of his, layering in a slightly dystopian undercurrent to the proceedings. Another album highlight, "For Concern," unravels into an awe-inspiring math-rock interpretation of early 90's shoegaze, colored with electic piano and guitar effects that recall the alien worlds of songs like the aforementioned My Bloody Valentine's "Blown A Wish."

Arc In Round is informed by the same key influences that have underpinned the band's work since its earlier incarnation in the last decade as Relay, perhaps the most notable of these being -- if you can call it an influence -- Mr. Zeigler's freedom to hole up in his own Uniform Recording studio and precisely sculpt sound with amazing attention to detail. You hear it everywhere, from the swell of the bridge in the second minute of "Spirit," to the Teutonic cool of the distorted tones blaring the melody of "Volume Sets All The Time," to the diaphanous and ethereal untitled third track. Close listening reveals that Zeigler's carefully constructed web of synthetic strings, whooshes, and electronic bubbling plays as strong a role in the music as the more traditional elements (it is worth reiterating here that Zeigler is an in-demand studio engineer and live sound guy perhaps best known for his work with The War On Drugs and Kurt Vile).

Arc In Round is an undeniable and flawless mission statement from a band in complete control of its own sonic world. Buy the new collection from La Société Expéditionnaire right here. The record is being celebrated with a release show at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia Saturday night that features a killer bill including Tadoma and Beige. -- Edward Charlton

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1 comment:

Chris said...

It's interesting to notice the changes that they go through.