Music Review: Arc Iris' new album is 'Kaleidoscopic'

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Posted: Aug 18, 2016 12:28 PM
Music Review: Arc Iris' new album is 'Kaleidoscopic'

Arc Iris, "Moon Saloon" (Bella Union)

The songs on "Moon Saloon" are prone to frequent, unpredictable changes in the meter, tempo, tune and instruments, making for music herky-jerky and always quirky.

Fetching but fleeting melodies ride a wave of guitars, horns, strings, keyboards, banjo, pedal steel, layered wordless vocals and electronic whooshes and bleeps. At one point the percussion sounds like dinner utensils being stacked, so perhaps the arrangements include even the kitchen sink.

The whole thing could have been a disaster, but Arc Iris pulls it off. The arty power trio includes singer Jocie Adams, keyboardist Zachary Tenorio-Miller and drummer Ray Belli, and their second album is best described by the title of the opening cut: "Kaleidoscope."

It helps that Adams, a former member of the Low Anthem, is a versatile soprano who sounds like Bjork, Kat Edmonson, Kristin Chenoweth and Linda Ronstadt, but never for more than a few measures at a time. The album's flood of ideas is such that Adams sometimes runs out of breath before the end of a phrase.

There are beautiful moments, however, such as the way the music blossoms when the melody climbs on "She Arose." The title cut closes the set with an unusually sparse but lovely arrangement, pausing at times to make effective use of yet another instrument: silence.