Text and reviews for Martin Archer

 
For a thorough career overview of Martin Archer start with this:

 

Doing Things Differently - an interview by Duncan Heining (2013) 

 

 

Martin Archer is a composer / improviser who is equally at home on stage or in the studio.  His own distinctive saxophone playing is rooted in AACM jazz. Through his use of keyboards and electronics, and as a studio producer, he extends this interest into extended song form and leftfield rock music.  He is also co-director of the uncategorisably avant choir Juxtavoices. 

 

“Archer's aesthetic is an intriguing and transformative one—whatever enters his world comes out changed, if not utterly, then beautifully.” – DUNCAN HEINING

 

His principle music work is the Discus Music label, the imprint for his various releases, notably by the groups described below.

 

His current jazz based projects include Engine Room Favourites (current a 4 drummer, 14 piece big band), Story Tellers (6 piece group including shaman instruments alongside the conventional instruments), plus various ad hoc smaller groups.  All of these are strongly aligned with AACM tradition and teaching. 

 

“A fantastic listen: complex, deep, yet elemental.” – FRANCOIS COUTURE

 

Archer has a long running duo with veteran vocalist Julie Tippetts.  Each of their highly acclaimed CD releases deliberately explores song from a different perspective – the duo aims to be truly progressive, and takes in elements from jazz, rock, soul and pure abstraction.

 

“An intense, shapeshifting tour de force, it could well be her best since 1975’s classic Sunset Glow.” – SID SMITH, PROG

 

Archer’s main live performance vehicle is the trio Inclusion Principle with Herve Perez and Peter Fairclough.  The group operates in a space between electronics, nu-jazz, contemporary electroacoustic music and free improvisation. In performance you will hear pure jazz skill, electronic beats and areas of texture and abstraction all seamlessly woven into a fascinating and constantly shifting tapestry of sound.

 

“Every project Archer touches is immediately plugged into a subterranean lava flow of great British avant practice.” - STEVE HANSON

 

The sprawling Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere was formed by Archer as an improvising rock group with shades of Terry Riley, Magma, Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, very much in the progressive / krautrock tradition, and noted for its large scale string, horn and vocal arrangements. 

 

“Nobody else out there sounds like this, 'cause nobody else out there thinks this BIG, and combines all these elements so perfectly - experimental electronics, improv jazz, avant-classical choral music, chamber rock, modern minimalism, pulsating krautrock beats, progressive symphonics, ambient drone, and much more.” – AQUARIUS, SAN FRANCISCO

 

Also in rock music, Archer is a member of the USA based heavier than plutonium prog / sludge / zeuhl group Combat Astronomy under the direction of Jamie Huggett.

 

Surprising, delighting and occasionally alarming audiences for a number of years now, Juxtavoices is a 30 piece choir for mainly untrained voices co directed by Archer with Alan Halsey which has racked up dozens of performances and issued three CDs.

 

“30 full-moon were-Ligetis, and Wicker Man workings wrangled by the Swingle Singers.” - Stewart Lee, SUNDAY TIMES

 

This eclectic combination of sources and highly individual applications makes Archer a unique inhabitant of the school of English maverick composer / improvisers. 

 

 

Some quotes:

 

"Archer's complex, gorgeous music demands a wider audience." - Peter Marsh (BBC music website)

 

"Martin was a man at one with the performance, engaging with the laptop like a genuine instrument. Elements of his show were challenging, consciousness shifting, peaceful and reassuring, thoroughly confident with his avant-garde originality." - Freenoise

 

"Archer was fascinated at all the different musics that were coming into view in the early 1970s, from the directions of Miles Davis to the various dark electronic escapades of certain collectives in deepest Germany. He would also be captivated by the sound of witch-season acoustic guitars in the various twilight folk circles. So many different ingredients, you could make anything happen. All these influences served as the inspiration for many of his Discus releases.." - Julian Cope's Head Heritage

 

He set up an electronic wash of sound before picking up his sopranino sax and playing a spiralling, intricate blast over various booms and disembodied voices. He followed that with the medieval woodiness of the bass recorder....Archer is possibly the only laptop user who gets out of breath by the end of his set, such is his enthusiasm. He finished with a piece of esoteric dance music, climaxing with Archer on his feet, blasting out an amazing squall of gabbling sax to a Chris Cutler drum loop." - Martin Lilleker in Wire 

 

"With these discs and his other work, Archer has managed to document his unique take on Euro Improv" - Jazz Weekly

 

"A great achievement, a breakthrough, a quiet gem..... An uncategorisable CD that moves from the echo of one half-recognisable musical language to another; there is always a sense of melody, though often stretches seem apparently abstract; the structures are always focused and seductive" - Chris Cutler, ReR

 

"Astonishing and profound"- Editorial, Stride

 

"An intriguing collage of sounds.....quintessentially English" - Duncan Heining, Jazzwise