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The Royal Arctic Institute - From Coma to Catharsis (Already Dead)

31 January 2023

One of the hidden jewels of the urban Northeast, the Royal Arctic Institute returns with From Coma to Catharsis, a sequel of sorts to its prior EP From Catnip to Coma. As before, the quintet (anchored by former Das Damen rhythm section Lyle Hysen and David Motamed and former Summer Wardrobe guitarist/pedal steelist John Leon) favors a mysterious, semi-ambient wash of cosmic Americana, as if filtering the Southwestern vistas of their imagination through the lens of a telescope tuned to the stars. The title track sets up a glowing atmosphere of steel and Carl Baggabley’s electric piano over which guitarist Lynn Wright sensitively solos, while “Passover Buckets” adds a layer of otherworldly shimmer that could just as easily come from the desert at dawn as another dimension. Boasting a searching, even spiritual edge, melodies like those of “Angelman’s Lament” and “The Elated World” reach for something just beyond humanity’s grasp, but whatever it is will obviously lead us to the light.