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Reviews Written by
Martin Archer "Huckleberry" (Yorkshire, England)

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English Commonflowers
English Commonflowers
Offered by Discsourcery
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Various reviews, 10 Dec 2009
This review is from: English Commonflowers (Audio CD)
Please excuse me posting these reviews of my own album!

"Daring and brilliant.....another excellent showcase for Archer's
eclectic and inventive approach." - Martin Lilleker, Sheffield Telegraph.

"It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up....inventive.....uncluttered
.....sublime....a restrained floating beauty.....worth repeated listenings" - Paul Donnelly, Stride

"Intricate and exciting.....the pieces deserve and repay the attention" - Ampersand Etcetera

"Full marks.....quite remarkable.....there's just too much music and information here" - Duncan Heining, Jazzwise

Pure Water Construction
Pure Water Construction
Offered by impetusrecs
Price: £10.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Various reviews, 10 Dec 2009
This review is from: Pure Water Construction (Audio CD)
Please excuse me posting these reviews of my own album!

"A fine progression in Martin's electro-acoustic exploits. Rather than being just improv, he's always had a constructive approach to the work. None more so than on this release where Simon Fell brings his ability to find fluidity in the face of impending chaos, making the album a completed puzzle box. Attempt to take it apart and it'll fall to bits... There's a slew of people making albums with computers and found sounds, but the results are too often piece-meal in vision and effect, but with every album Martin expands his sonic vocabulary and editing skills. In Simon Fell he's found an ideal collaborator. If you've heard any of Simon's terrific free-jazz workouts, you'll know his recordings and live work have always complimented and enhanced the playing of others. This time he's brought out the best in Archer." - Progress Report
"Adds several dimensions to a world of ideas already pushing the boundaries of modern composition......evoking a wild mixture of emotions.....cathartic and expressive.....Once again Martin Archer and his collaborators have successfully created bridges between worlds previously barely imagined and they illustrate just how clearly modern recording techniques can further harness such vision. The line between madness and genius may well be thin, but Martin Archer certainly knows how to parade a carnival along it." - Fourth Dimension.
"Reinvigorating the stagnant world of electroacoustics with non-academic strategies.....sensitive chamber-like expressivity" - Chris Blackford, Rubberneck.
"An exciting and skilful combination of improvised music and electroacoustic technique.....Fell and Archer display mastery of equipment, processes, sound quality and musicianship.....Full marks for ingenuity, innovation and inspiration.....Every track is a modernist gem of mournful, elegiac, deeply moving instrumental music." - Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector.
"A fascinating piece.....One soon grows to love the grungy sounds, violent rhythms and ad hoc but always interesting form" - Christipher Bailey, Diffusion.

"If you can simply allow yourself to dig the intricate and sometimes outrageous juxtaposition of textures, patterns and timbres, it becomes a brilliant piece of work.....Light years better than 99% of the sterile contemporary academic stuff that passes for cutting edge electroacoustics today.....The things Archer can do with the sound of a piano are quite amazing, and in themselves offer ample testimony of his studio genius.....Aural treats abound.....The sort of recording that's going to offer surprise and delight every time out.....This CD is a rich, remarkable statement." - Bill Tilland, Motion.
"Pure Water Construction is similar but completely different (that paradox again). The premise has shifted, and this makes for a new focus in the music. This time, it seems, Archer has allowed a single solo improvisation to substantially structure each of the five main sections (there is an introduction which seems to be more of a studio cut-up). These improvisations were then taken away and given the studio treatment (by both Archer and Fell), following their logic but developing it with edits from other improvisations and electronic manipulations and re-orchestrations.
It starts -- after a wonderfully hectic "Part 0" which sounds like, but of course isn't, a group improvisation -- with tubist Robin Hayward. His steam-train textures, overlaid with bells, motors which sound like running water and odd tapping sounds manages to hold the imagination for a good seven minutes before he moves into more conventional, note-based territory.
Contributions from Chris Burn, Rhodri Davies, Jenni Molloy and Stefan Jaworzyn follow; each piece sounds incontrovertibly like its originator, and as one listens one really begins to get a sense of what Archer and Fell have achieved here. Keeping the integrity of each performance, they have transformed it into an impossibly sophisticated composition; a result which would be nigh-on impossible, anyway, using either composition or improvisation alone. Fell even crowbars in one of his trademark serialist jazz heads ("Part 3"), but on the whole the feel is similar to that of Ghost Lily Cascade, brooding, sombre and restless below the surface, with less in common with jazz than with electroacoustic composition. As a result of its methodology, however, the music on this disk is much closer to the familiar models of free improvisation than its predecessor. That, though, might just make it even more subversive in the face of all those improv purists who look on the studio somewhat as members of the Temperance Association used to regard the local pub.
Without wanting to make too much of the Freudian angle, the metaphor of a body of standing water comes up too often to be ignored. Of course, it has many connotations -- its secrecy (how deep is it?), its hidden threat (drowning, lurking Loch Ness monsters), its blankly reflecting surface on which one can only project one's own image, transformed by its own movement. Whatever your preference, these are two beautiful, well-played, conceptually rich disks which come highly recommended." - Richard Cochrane, Musings
"With this work Archer has documented his unique take on Euro Improv. The result actually sounds more live than some concert performances" - Jazz Weekly
"Concerns itself with liberating all manner of sound sources from their original context. Overall, the pieces evoke the feeling that lines most others would turn away from are being crossed, without once losing site of the juxtaposed odds. Which is a good thing and should be actively encouraged as much as possible" - Adverse Effect.
"We would also recommend to adventurous ears this excellent electroacoustic suite" - Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD
"Pure Water Construction fait partie de ces enregistrements dans lesquels l'auditeur n'entre pas toujours facilement.
La musique propose un jeu de constructions électroacoustiques qui ont tendance à dérouter.
Pourtant, de-ci de-là se dessinent des phrases savoureuses, les improvisations se font envolées, d'une énergie contagieuse et pleines d'une beauté qui n'affleurait pas auparavant avec autant d'évidence.
Pour goûter Pure Water Construction, pour apprécier sa déclinaison des sonorités, il faut laisser voguer librement son imagination ; c'est alors que se découvrent le verbe, la phrase et l'émotion musicales." - JazzoSphere

The Inclusion Principle
The Inclusion Principle
Offered by impetusrecs
Price: £10.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Everything feels shockingly different, 10 Dec 2009
This review is from: The Inclusion Principle (Audio CD)
Please excuse me posting this review of my own album!

Martin Archer, a mainstay of Sheffield's experimental scene,
has released electroacoustic improvisations on his own Discus label
since the mid 1990s. Here he takes up his violin, processing
the results at source with computer software. Perez sis at a
laptop, treating field recordings of natural sounds. "Playing a
violin and manipulating a mouse at the same time is an
interesting physical process" reads Archer's press release,
and though listeners searching for examples of conventional
virtuosity will do so in vain, the sense of considered,
focused interplay between the participanys is undeniable.
An hour or so of abstract noise passes imperceptibly, then,
suddenly, everything feels shockingly
different - Stuart Lee, Sunday Times

In Stereo Gravity
In Stereo Gravity
Offered by impetusrecs
Price: £13.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two reviews, 10 Dec 2009
This review is from: In Stereo Gravity (Audio CD)
Please excuse me posting these reviews of my own album!

Here's a record you could proudly file alongside other greats
such as Keith Tippett's Centipede, Soft Machine's Third, or
Carla Bley's Escalator Over The Hill - Ed Pinsent, SOUND PROJECTOR

Archer presents a shrewdly edited deliberation between rock grooves,
improv and jazz.....mulched together not as a tepid fusion, but as an
incisively argued whole that is confident enough to let the awkward
corners just be.....An enigmatic but engaging commentary on modern living - Philip Clark, WIRE

Ghost Lily Cascade
Ghost Lily Cascade

5.0 out of 5 stars Various reviews, 10 Dec 2009
This review is from: Ghost Lily Cascade (Audio CD)
Please excuse me posting these various reviews of my own album!

"Equal measures of beauty, depth and an unadulterated focus that shines through both the combination of spontaneity and arrangements alike. A remarkable album." - Fourth Dimension.
"The drama is startling. Archer's chill, separate sounds hang in the mind long after listening. Special" - Ben Watson.
"These pieces fire the imagination and stir the emotions, conjuring an intriguing soundscape. Recommended" - Wire.
"Intriguing and fresh sounding" - Resonance.

"Archer at his finest" - Noisegate.
"Rich and complex ..... dark and subtle ..... a unique blend of control and spontaneity" - Variant.
"Toujours aux croisees de l'electronique aggresive d'avant garde et des musiques serielles, Archer delivre sa musique avec la serenite d'un angoisse chronique et fait de cet album une merveille de tension alternative. Sans jamais etre absconse, toujours en retrait et assez souvent melodique, la musique se cache derriere les rideaux etranges d'une cascade assechee." - Jerome Schmidt, Art Zero.
"A sense of prolonged anticipation and constant surprise. A consistently fascinating effort, which confounds expectations even after repeated listening." - Bill Tilland, Motion.
"Elegant.....understated.....disturbing.....worth playing to death" - Progress Report.
"The programmatic texts which accompany both of these disks refer to stagnant waters; an appropriate reference, both as an analogy and, in a more tenuous sense, as a Freudian symbol. Like a dark pool, the music has a lapidary surface which speaks of hidden depths, of activity deep beneath what is visible. Superficially, for example, the pieces on Ghost Lily Cascade often seem to go nowhere; there is little by way of conventional development. Instead, subtle ideas flit up to the surface only to vanish again, creating a music in which, moment-to-moment, as the French have it, everything changes and everything stays the same.
Archer created the compositions on the earlier disk using improvisation as a sound-source or "detail generator". His keyboards are the most prominent feature, but all but one of the tracks -- "Telecottage", the most conventional on the disk in terms of rhythm and harmonic structure, a track which a fan of The Orb, say, would have little difficulty with -- all but one includes at least one collaborator. Archer has carved up their improvisations and re-assembled them, allowing "chance to shape many of the events" but also, surely, applying careful attention to others.
"How did that story end?", with sampler work by Collins (an important sideman on this disk), is everything 88 Enemies promised to deliver but did so only sporadically -- a post-piano music of intricate angularity and eerie directionlessness, interspersed with the most disturbing musique concrete interjections -- voices, telephone tones, digital glitches, footsteps. Ghost Lily Cascade is at once approachable and inaccessible, a beautiful building without a door. One walks around it, seeing intriguing movements through the windows, always shut off from its secrets. Dense, knotty and abstract, its surface as blank as a pool of water, it calls to mind Adorno's conception of high modernism, an enigmatic, plastic form which confronts its social context with its own alien impenetrability". - Richard Cochrane, Musings
"This is a language of sound which has only recently been compiled into a modernist dictionary, but Archer is fluent in it." - Steve Hanson, Ptolemaic Terrascope

Angel High Wires
Angel High Wires
Offered by Sound and Vision
Price: £2.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A provocative mixture of the random, the alien and the familiar, 10 Dec 2009
This review is from: Angel High Wires (Audio CD)
Please excuse me posting this review of my own album!

"Electronic composer Archer's
music is always filled with surprises -- a consequence of his tireless
experimentation with sound, his liberal use of chance elements in his
compositions, and his rotating cast of musicians and use of unconventional
instruments (bassoon, crwth, prepared piano, etc.). On this disk, Archer
also works for the first time with the human voice, and the results are
predictably stimulating. This recording represents Archer's
collaboration with poet Geraldine Monk, whose poems Archer has set to
music. Veteran new music vocalist Tippets is typically
on the experimental edge, turning her four songs into abstract but dynamic
adventures in vocalese, trilling and wailing to the accompaniment of
Archer's rumbling, stuttering electronic treatments. Tippetts offers the
listener the greatest challenge, but also perhaps the greatest rewards.
In contrast, Steve Roden's pieces are both vaguely sinister and
quietly beautiful. Roden's fragile counter-tenor, combined with Archer's
electronic scores (which extend to ghostly enhancements of Roden's voice),
are a study in contrast -- the poignant struggles of the human soul within
a bleak, futuristic environment. Rachel McCarron and Sedayne combine on
their four pieces, with Sedayne also playing crwth, a Welsh stringed
instrument somewhat equivalent to a bowed lyre. These pieces are the
perhaps most conventionally dramatic, although Sedayne's declamatory
vocals may not be to every listener's taste. As always, Archer's
electroacoustic treatments and blends of instrumental timbres and textures
are fascinating in their own right - a provocative mixture of the random,
the alien and the familiar." - Bill Tilland, BBC website
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2013 6:38 PM BST

Offered by impetusrecs
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 10 Dec 2009
This review is from: Artefacts (Audio CD)
Please excuse me posting this review of my own album!

Discus label boss Archer loves collaborations and, although he's a musician of some accomplishment (playing saxes and clarinets on this CD, violin and keyboards elsewhere), he also loves messing about in the studio with his "software instruments."
Composers such as Archer, who build chance procedures into their premeditated structures, are rolling the dice every time out - even more so than if they were simply improvising. Even lacklustre improvisation has an underlying logic, but random plunking and twittering can create a total aural disconnect where the musical artifact literally does not compute.
Fortunately, Archer's electroacoustic stew has the right balance of ingredients this time out. Carver's processed toy music boxes are quietly (and charmingly) dominant, but on several other pieces, Archer adds recurring motifs with his reeds, while yet other pieces include Carver's processed guitar and ukulele - although typically, the electronic treatments often disguise the exact nature of the source material.
The several longer pieces, especially, give the listener hooks to hang onto (by way of recurring textures and patterns) while still producing sonic landscapes that are beguilingly strange - and strangely beguiling.
Recommended - Bill Tilland BBC online

Ghosts of Gold
Ghosts of Gold
Price: £10.73

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endearing dreamlike escapades, 16 Oct 2009
This review is from: Ghosts of Gold (Audio CD)
I hope no-one minds me posting this review of my own album By Glenn Astarita from All About Jazz.

In addition, this CD was listed as one of The Wire's top 50 albums of 2009, and figured in Jazzwise reviewers' top 10 CDs of 2009.

British vocalist Julie Tippetts' teaming with eminent jazz-rock keyboardist Brian Auger dates back to the late 1960s, featuring her minor-classic covers of works by Bob Dylan and Donovan, among other little gems. Moving forward, she's become a prominent exponent of the European experimental circuit, largely enveloped within her homeland's free-jazz scene. With Ghosts Of Gold, she aligns with the always adventurous, avant-garde and free form artiste Martin Archer, here performing on an arsenal of keys, guitars, percussion instruments, woodwinds and other implements of the trade.
Archer composed the music between 2007 and 2008, followed by Tippetts poetic text overlays. In a loose sense, the program might be akin to a collection of bizarre fairytales treated with abstract musical treatments. Nonetheless, the album defies rigid classification, which is a good thing. Archer's quaint electronics, bells and a rhythmic heartbeat provide a fluid backdrop for Tippetts spoken word and offbeat scat maneuvers on "Moonshine," while in other regions of scope and sound, the duo ventures into space-rock territory amid ethereal overtones, dappled with the vocalist's bluesy verse and avant, thumb piano progressions.
Uncannily entertaining and intriguing, Archer adds a cinematic flavor to these pieces via his layered synth motifs and otherworldly treatments, but executes a free jazz sax-drenched vibe atop Tippetts' recitals during "Parchment Dust." The duo generates a consortium of polytonal sound-sculpting passages, coated with mood-evoking sentiment and endearing, dreamlike escapades. Continuous sparks of ingenuity serve as the underlying force throughout -
Glenn Astarita All About Jazz
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 21, 2014 4:53 PM GMT

The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £5.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternative take?, 14 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
Of course this is a classic, but has anyone else noticed that the version of Some Kinda Love on this reissue is a completely different take to the LP version? It's just as good, but the question is WHY, doesn't anyone check this stuff properly? Therefore loses one star.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2009 7:27 PM BST

Pretzel Logic
Pretzel Logic
Price: £7.08

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where's the intro gone?, 14 Aug 2009
This review is from: Pretzel Logic (Audio CD)
Great album obviously, but how come the solo marimba introduction to Rikki on the LP is missing from the CD re-issue? It loses one star for that!

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