Arc and Sender is, at its core, a three-piece ensemble that seems to have found a balance between the eerie, slow-building epic instrumentation of Godspeed You Black Emperor! But it is within a context that brings to mind Yo La Tengo or rapid-fire Sonic Youth, especially on the driving, pulsating "Hundred-Year Flood," which recalls Primal Scream's "Shoot Speed Kill Light." There are no drones or spacy fills heard, just a group that seems to have found what works and runs with it. The middle portion slows things down into an indie rock milieu prior to taking it down into prog rock territory. "Semblance" is a contemplative, reflective piece that draws you in and mellows you out. The trio of Ryan Grove, Jason Hutt, and Greg Pardew finds the synergy often on this tune full of twists and turns. The group opts for a minimalist approach on the sparse beginning of "Squares and Circles," conjuring images of John Cale and Ry Cooder working on some new and exciting project. "Perambulations" has a slight lush groove thanks to the violin of Jennifer Hutt, which the song builds upon over time. What you don't expect is how quickly it busts out into a full-fledged rock instrumental that recalls classic British metal bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Like most nine-minute songs, there are ebbs and flows in it, but the off-kiltered tempo at times only highlights how effective the band can be. The only problem is how messy the conclusion tends to be, in the vein of a bad B-side to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. This "stoner rock" quality grows on the remaining songs, making some good but not great. Unfortunately "Light Pain" also seems to hit a wall somewhat, with Dan Scofield's sax playing adding little to the proceedings. The horns and guitars make for a wall of sound that is extremely disconcerting at times. Nonetheless, Arc and Sender redeem this with an engaging, soothing coda entitled "Sleep Wake Hope and Then." Warm and yet haunting, the song's violin and drone quality tends to diminish the overall effect. Halfway through the guitars start to go off the rails and it takes on a Middle Eastern aura to it before Pardew and Hutt offer up a thick slab of guitar work, letting each note seemingly hang in the air.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason MacNeil