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The Royal Arctic Institute

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The Royal Arctic Institute
The Royal Arctic Institute at the 2017 NJIRF.jpg
The Royal Arctic Institute at the 2018 North Jersey Indie Rock Festival
Background information
OriginNew York City, New York, U.S.
GenresInstrumental music, jazz, rock
Years active2016 (2016)–current
LabelsRhyme & Reason Records
Associated actsDas Damen, Roky Erickson, Phantom Tollbooth
MembersLyle Hysen
John Leon
Gerard Smith

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The Royal Arctic Institute is an instrumental rock band that is from New York City.


The Royal Arctic Institute is an instrumental and experimental jazz rock trio from New York City, New York, that formed in 2016. The band is composed of drummer Lyle Hansen, guitarist John Leon, and bassist Gerard Smith.[1] The band name is a reference to the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.[2] Prior to the Royal Arctic Institute, Hysen was the drummer for the alternative rock band Das Damen, Leon played in garage rocker Roky Erickson's band, and Smith was the bassist for the punk rock band Phantom Tollbooth.[3] They play a blend of post-punk, cinematic, orchestrated jazz, and their music has been dubbed as "post-everything."[1]

After a year of writing and playing shows, the Royal Arctic Institute recorded their debut album The French Method, which was released on cassette tape and digital download, on 5 May 2017. The album was recorded in two weeks, and engineered and produced by Tom Beaujour at Nuthouse Recording in Hoboken, New Jersey. The song "Greely's Ghost" is described as "post-rock haze with jazz leanings" by Glide, and the music video mixes images of Leon's family and archival footage from Mobile and Gulf Shores, Alabama.[1] The single "Russian Twists" was released on cassette tape, on 7 July 2018. A review of the song in Tiny Mix Tapes illustrates the "windows are down, wind's in our hair, and "Russian Twists" is our soundtrack, a jaunty instrumental post rock number propelling us forward as we're entranced by the highway strip, crossing state line after state line, destination unknown."[2] Music journalist Jim Testa in The Jersey Journal says the track "exemplifies the group's approach to interactive compositions that shift and evolve through a suite of different melodies and rhythms.[4] The Royal Arctic Institute performed at the North Jersey Indie Rock Festival on 6 October 2018.

Their second album, Accidental Achievements was released with Rhyme & Reason Records on limited edition 12"-vinyl and digital download, on 18 October 2018. hMag says "this is "turn off the lights, sit in a comfortable chair, turn it up loud, and pay attention" music," and describe it as tentatively, mysteriously[,] dreamy compositions."[5] The first single and music video, "The Grubert Effect," was inspired by French writer Mœbius' comic strip The Airtight Garage.[3] Leon explains "like Frued's concept of the id, the ego, and the super ego[,] so [is] "The Grubert Effect" [...] essentially the means by which we transition between the three parts of the song."[6] The song "The Lark Mirror" was remixed by indie musician Michael Benajmin Lerner and released as a single, on 8 March 2019.[7]


  • Lyle Hysen – drums
  • John Leon – guitars
  • Gerard Smith – bass


  • The French Method (2017)
  • Accidental Achievements (2018)
  • "Russian Twists" (2018)
  • "The Lark Mirror (Telekinesis Remix)" (2018)



External links[edit]