Accidental Achievement

The Royal Arctic Institute

Rhyme & Reason Records, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


New York City's The Royal Arctic Institute isn’t your typical instrumental outfit. A trio who paid their dues in punk, garage and alt-rock bands (Phantom Tollbooth, Das Damen, and Roky Erickson's Band), these days, the three incorporate jazz qualities into their post-everything formula that's so fluid, it hardly seems like they've only been playing together since 2016. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Leaky Goes To Brooklyn” starts the listen soft and warm with calm percussion and precise post-rock meets jazz tendencies where space twang is also present. “The Grubert Effect” follows and brings fuller sounds with crashing drums alongside rhythm and grooves and an ever-shifting tempo.

Moving along, “Raymond Roussell” finds the listen entering contemplative, mysterious territory with reverb, while the crisp, angular, and bass heavy “When The Razors Were Works Of Art” recruits a soothing haze of melody and restraint.

The back half of the record shines, too, including the driving pace and classic rock nods of “Frosted Tips,” the twinkling, dreamy “The Vorrh,” and the tense “Dear Mister Bookman,” which sounds like it could be flowing out of a stadium show in 1986. The album ends on “Northern Progress Exploration Company,” where a playful pace and skilled manipulation of the instruments reminds us again of just how proficient the players here are.

A record that has just about everything in some capacity (except vocals, obviously), The Royal Arctic Institute grabs from psyche ock, goth, New Wave, punk, jazz, post-rock, and cinematic sounds on this extremely detailed sophomore album. With instrumental music gaining more popularity recently (we can thank The Messthetics for that?), it will be no surprise to me if people one day speak of TRAI in the same way that they do Explosions In The Sky, Pelican, or Maserati. A bold statement indeed, but one I'm quite sure is accurate.

Rating: A-

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