Arc in Round Arc in Round(La Société Expéditionnaire) Buy it from Insound
A great band name is typically thought of as an afterthought. But once the branding has been made, there’s absolutely no way of turning back that license. Arc in Round, formerly known as Relay, emerged into the Philadelphia scene with such fierce confidence that it was almost impossible not to be swept up by it. Still Point of Turning can de described as the sound of urgency, a taut, tightly spooled reel that grinded out eddying layers of guitars and stomping drum patterns. It was the poppier, more uplifting response to Turn on the Bright Lights, pouring down a cascade of tuneful hooks – sans the moroseness – you’d think they’d be wise to save some in case of a drought.
So it was a damn shame the Philadelphia foursome just about vanished into the occult once they yielded a name that would potentially bring them heaps of legal strife. It’s been over five years, but Arc in Round doesn’t really feel like a backwards step, and it could very well be a version 2.0, an alchemized replication of their former selves. Even II, the album's opener, reveres their past in both name and spirit – just like the strengthened vein pulse of New Domestic Landscape, it shatters the speed limit with some relentless strumming while a shrieking siren effect follows its trail.
Arc in Round have an insatiable thirst for energy, but they hang in the balance equally poised when they let the effects pedals do their thing. Which inevitably lead to comparisons to My Bloody Valentine – a fair assessment had they completely drenched their sound with swelling sonic walls of noise, but Arc in Round like to write firmly structured songs within a thick, opulent template. Said Astray takes its time to build up an all-encompassing array of synth effects until the hazy, lazy vocal interplay of Jeff Zielger and Mikelle Edwards comes out of the mist, though it briskly dissolves once the extended instrumental coda comes into effect.
It’s no surprise that Jeff Ziegler, a studio hermit who has recorded the likes of Kurt Vile, Clockcleaner and the War on Drugs, engineered such intricate masterwork. This is as close to aural perfection as it gets in terms of craftsmanship – One-Sided meshes terse, dreamy arrangements with an ominous undercurrent, while Spirit soaks its ringing guitars with a tumult of key presses – coming close to sounding like a Simon board game at its highest difficulty – once its about to hit that last peak. Even so, Arc in Round takes some chances for the better, and the addition of Edwards increases the harmonic variations of the previous lineup – bringing out a peculiar hybrid of Nico and Trish Keenan, she embodies the synthetic psychedelia of Volume Sets All the Time with a dry, parched delivery that lends an accurate ambiguity to the loungy European counterparts it looks up to.
Whether or not the band members see Arc in Round as a debut should be a moot point. Nevertheless, it’d be a great disservice to a record that left an indelible impact to the few people who actually heard it. Arc in Round remain trendless sonic adventurists, all the while making subtle tweaks to its vibrantly layered tones with a broader catalogue of influences present. Having been this close to being trapped in dollar bin purgatory, and with an unfamiliar name to boot, it's a surprise, but mostly a relief, they've resurfaced with such a hypnotically mellifluous effort. Second chances just don't get any better than this.29 June, 2012 - 10:14 — Juan Edgardo Rodriguez