Arc Iris broke musical ground with the release of their acclaimed self-titled debut in 2014. The Providence, Rhode Island-based band quickly won over audiences in the US and Europe, supporting artists such as St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The group performed at the London Palladium and festivals including Bonnaroo, End of the Road and the Rolling Stone Weekender.
Released on Bella Union in Europe and ANTI Records in the US and, Arc Iris drew admiration for its innovative style and distinctive sound. “It’s hypnotic,” said the Boston Globe. The New York Times wrote of “songs that seesawed between the elfin delicacy of Joanna Newsom and some brassy raucousness.” The Guardian talked of “a shape-shifting treat” while new music site The Line of Best Fit proclaimed, “Arc Iris is traditional music thrillingly positioned at the nexus of the old and new.”
“Moon Saloon,” due to be released on Bella Union in August 2016, constitutes a natural progression from the first album’s whimsical explorations and energetic diversity. Produced by the group and mixed by electronica producer David Wrench of FKA Twigs and Jamie xx fame, the album showcases beat-heavy melodies and textural, groove-riding rhythms. It developed from the band’s distillations of musical influences, combining traditional elements with percussive structures and dense, beguiling harmonies.
In many ways this second album captures Arc Iris’ musical odyssey as a band. “It has a heavier sound, more intense,” says Arc Iris keyboardist Zach Tenorio-Miller, who makes liberal use of sampling in many of the songs. The group matches an unusual array of organic acoustic instruments with layered electronic sounds.
Lead singer and lyricist Jocie Adams, Tenorio-Miller, and drummer Ray Belli form the core of Arc Iris, all virtuosic musicians in their own right. Adams spent eight years as a key member of indie darlings The Low Anthem, effortlessly zipping from hammer dulcimer to clarinet to bass to vocals, sometimes barely pausing to take a breath. Her 2011 solodebut, Bed of Notions, sparked a musical beginning that became Arc Iris. Joining Adams on Bed of Notions was cellist Robin Ryczek, a conservatory-trained musician who toured with Jethro Tull and founded a rock school in Afghanistan.
To help launch Arc Iris in 2012, Adams teamed with Ryczek and the musically agile Tenorio-Miller, an established indie-rock keyboardist for well-known talents from Gene Ween to the New Pornographers’ A.C Newman. Later that year Tenorio-Miller brought in his longtime friend Belli. The two toured with Jon Anderson of Yes when they were just 16.
Arc Iris has attracted numerous fans around the world as the group’s stage performances become storied events themselves. Space domes reveal giant golden wings in flight while montages light up the backdrop with evocative images. Above all, the group’s love of music is a shared passion that comes alive with each song. As diverse as their musical interests and influences have been, the band members find avenues for producing a blend of soul-satisfying sounds that are truly their own.