Sodium Light

The Royal Arctic Institute

Rhyme & Reason Records, 2021

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Certainly one of the most noted instrumental bands out of New York City, and perhaps one of the most exciting bands across all genres, The Royal Arctic Institute blends so many ideas into their formula that the influences can be hard to keep up with.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

On this five song effort, original members Lyle Hysen and John Leon are joined by David Motamed, Carl Baggaley, and Lynn Wright, effectively expanding their sonic palette into this career highlight effort.

“Tomorrowmorrow Land” starts the EP with an almost country Western feel embedded in Leon's guitar as proficient drumming from Hysen settles in nicely to the breezy and lush version of post-rock.

Lynn Wright then takes over on lead guitar duties for “Different In Sodium Light” and “We Begin On Familiar Ground.” The former wastes no time drawing us into its dreamy and light demeanor, where Motamed's strategic bass flows alongside the shimmering guitar lines. The latter offers a very diverse approach, as Baggaley's precise keys add much to the cautious meets dense textures that weave in and out of beauty and mystery with the two guitars interacting superbly.

“13 Christmases At Sea” lands near the end, and recruits a mesmerizing vision of hazy, sublime guitars alongside post-punk nods for an unconventional holiday song. “Prince Of Wisconsin” then exits the listen on the most upbeat tune, where rhythm and melody meet in a jazz friendly sort of way that's radiant with clever keys making an indelible mark.

I'm not even slightly exaggerating when I say that The Royal Arctic Institute deserves to be spoken in the same sentence as instrumental giants like Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, and Sigur Rós. Each release is somehow better than the one before it, and at this rate, their “post-everything” formula will make them the band that others aspire to parallel in terms of impact.

Rating: A

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