Arriver's upcoming Azimuth, to be released independently on Saturday, March 4th, marks a split in Arriver's direction. What does this mean, exactly? For one, Arriver is an experimental band, through and through, and guitarist and vocalist Dan MacAdam is adamant about this. Maybe progressive, in a way, but Arriver's influences go beyond the simple idea of "prog." When approaching, Azimuth, there is a cornucopia of influence which defines Arriver's nebulous, heavy sound, from noise rock groove and crunch to a greater sense of atmosphere and psychedelia, as well as death metal's gruff vocal performance.

"[The variety in sound] is a consequence of the piecemeal way we write things," says MacAdam. "You get these weird juxtapositions, but another thing that happens is over the years bits and pieces get mashed together into a song. We're always nerding out on Genesis and other records in the rehearsal space."

Azimuth, though, is greater than the sum of its parts. A deeply conceptually driven band, Arriver's sound is both conceptual in a thoughtful way, as well as compositionally. Listen to an exclusive stream of Azimuth below.



"The main theme is a chord progression that is in the song 'Azimuth,'" says guitarist and vocalist Dan Suillivan, "and that's a serialist composition. It moves through this sequence of notes. I think Rob wrote that chord progression to collaborate with Kid Millions from Oneida at the Empty Bottle. Rob in a stroke of genius wrote this and it's six chords, so it never feels like it fully resolves because it's not a standard chord progression. That existed and then we did a couple performances at the Comfort Station in which we would haul the PA over there and invite people like Mark Solotroff or Neil Jendon to be a collaborator on a show. The second time we did it, we composed this 40 minute instrumental odyssey which was a climax of the show, a totally linear thing. Simultaneously, Dan [MacAdam] was probably working on 'Reenactor,' which has a rad riff. How do we bring these things together to a cohesive statement of music? That's when we employ this device, we write to narratives. That sort of defines these moments in the record–how do we fill in these spots? What is missing?"

There is little missing on this new Arriver album, a culmination of seven years of songwriting, rehearsing, and recording. Though 2020's atmospheric folk rock cover of The Ophelias' "Holy Glow" indicated new ground for this long-running Chicago band, it's on Azimuth that we find a greater variety of sounds and approaches to Arriver's multi-faceted sound.

"There's a couple things that just coalesce and are organic," Sullivan explains. "I think we definitely are fans of Led Zeppelin records where each song to the next is a different song. Houses of the Holy, every song is distinct. We love Helmet's Meantime, in which you can drop the needle on any song and it's Helmet. We're purposefully writing different types of songs, though."

With the conceptual angle, Arriver explores previously explored ground, but it's been a long while since these Chicagoans explored the world of fiction. With albums like Tsushima and Emeritus falling deep down historical rabbit holes, it's on Azimuth that the band returns to the concept which drove their debut.

"Previously with the last couple of records and EP, we had these historical narratives," says MacAdam. "Footnotes and everything. We would share books and get into this idea and that would be the scaffold on which we hang the music. It gives us direction on what the songs should be and what sequence they should be in, but I think that we did historical narrative to the point where if we did that again it would be a bit limited and less relevant to us as to where we were in life and what we were experiencing. With Azimuth, we opened it up to fiction, all the way back to the beginnings of Arriver and our first release Vanlandingham and Zone. It was based on this scrap composed by primitive AI–a microphone left on at night when the cleaning crew came through and it interpreted these vacuum cleaner sounds as a page of stuff. We wrote this comic book/Conan/sci-fi/Moebius Comics narrative a number of years ago."

"2006," interjects Sullivan, highlighting the passage of time.

"We, after puzzling through how to make music that felt more real to our lived experiences," MacAdam continues, "figured out that writing this long-form fiction (kind of a comic book). We landed on that as the way we could explore the ideas that we wanted to explore."

On their strongest and most adventurous album to date, Arriver's Azimuth is a uniquely heavy and thoughtful set of songs, a narrative which flows into itself and creates a continuum of true creativity. Be sure to catch their album release show on March 11th at The Burlington in Chicago.


Azimuth releases independently on March 4th.

More From Invisible Oranges