Sometimes, my expectations get the better of me. I approach an album thinking it will be one thing, but then find it is completely different. That is a welcome surprise at times, but other times I might give up on the album, to my shame. Other times, though, I persevere, and I find real beauty in the results. My Arrival’s debut is one such album. “Satur9 & Indigo” is nothing like what I anticipated, but I have come to appreciate it all the same.
My Arrival hails from the Netherlands. The band is a trio with a lineup including: Ben van Gastel (Sylvium), Fred Boks (Excluded Opportunities, Sylvium) and Richard de Geest (Ghost, Sylvium). So, in a way, this is a Sylvium side project.
Perhaps my view of Sylvium was a little off, but I expected this album to be guitar-forward with lots of roaring rhythms and thunderous instrumentals. I suppose I expected it to be more like Sound of Contact’s debut, what with the similar themes and even track names. Instead, My Arrival offers music that is keyboard-led, more than anything else. It is gentle, reserved, and laser-focused on melody. It lathers, bubbles, and foams with luxurious, pulsating beauty.
Don’t get me wrong here: the album has plenty of wonderful instrumentals and guitar work, including some great solos. It has moments of oomph and energy. However, the album almost doesn’t qualify as “rock”, per se. It has more pop elements found in the rich, catchy choruses and the milder style. You will also hear plenty of electronic elements, making for an album fomenting with atmosphere and space. In the end, exploring this style feels even more ambitious than just creating another progressive rock album.
Another thing to note about this album is that it is unabashedly a concept album. I have no idea about the specifics, as the band is somewhat secretive and short on details, but it is a sci-fi story that involves searching for a new home for humanity. If I’m hearing correctly, this is done through some sort of portal machine, not with a spaceship. Or maybe it is, I can’t tell yet. The cover art seems to confirm my suspicions. Anyways, the album revels in this story, and it often reminds me of Hibernal’s story-forward albums because there are significant portions of voiceover work that push the story along for us. This might annoy some people, but I really enjoy it.
On first listen, this album landed with a soft thud for me. It wasn’t what I predicted, and I was listening to some other, more boisterous albums at the time, too. Looking at it now, though, I have come to appreciate the richness and splendor on display. The band obviously put great care into being subtle, warm, and ambient, and I really love what I hear now.
Pretty much every song on the album is wonderful. My favorites are “Pale White Dot”, “Strange Machine”, “Null Echo”, “Failure of a Grand Design”, and “Full Dark No Stars”, with that last one being my favorite of them all. “Pale White Dot” and “Strange Machine” share similar styles, having a steady, yet gentle pace that mixes with lavish vocals lines and catchy choruses. They are a pure joy to hear.
“Null Echo” and “Failure of a Grand Design” are also similar. The former is one of the more high energy songs on the album, and the memorable chorus drives itself to a great climax near the end. The latter is actually an instrumental track with lots of hanging guitar notes and electronic loops, but it has that spark of energy, too. It almost feels quite abstract in conception.
Now, “Full Dark No Stars” offers all of the above. It is the catchiest, most instantly likable song on the album. It has the biggest guitar solo, the most attractive aura, and the coolest lyrics. The chorus is incredibly emotional, and it washes over my mind perfectly. I really love this song, and expect it to be one of my favorites for the year.
Ultimately, My Arrival has a real gem on their hands. “Satur9 & Indigo”, for what it sacrifices in edge and power, celebrates glorious melody, elegant subtlety, and vivid story-telling. It is a beautiful album, through and through, and it only gets better with each listen. It’s one of those albums that offers no apologies for what it is, and it endears itself through quality rather than through theatrics. It feels like a reserved, introverted friend that is always there for you, rather than an outgoing, showy acquaintance that barely notices you are alive, if that make any sense. I know this album will only grow more on my mind as I continue listening.
Find My Arrival online: