Text and reviews for Julie Tippetts / Martin Archer Ensemble

 

OVERVIEW FOR PROMOTERS

 

Julie Tippetts – voice

Martin Archer – electronics, saxophones

with

Laura Cole – piano, electric piano

Anton Hunter – guitar

Seth Bennett – bass 

Peter Fairclough – drums

 

Julie Tippetts is one of the foremost European vocalists in the field of contemporary jazz and improvised music. Her recording and performing career has taken her from the early years of soul/jazz/R&B with Brian Auger in the 1960s to working with some of the world’s leading improvising musicians today.  Julie’s extended use of the voice as an instrument has led her to develop a vocal technique beyond the boundaries of a conventional singer. During the 1970s she explored the range of vocal possibilities in groups such as the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Centipede, Ovary Lodge, Voice and the Ark. In the 1980s she was to be found working in a myriad of duos, trios and small ensembles. Much of this work has been documented on vinyl and CD.  The 1990s brought the opportunity once more to work in several large ensembles including Mujician and The Georgian Ensemble, The Dedication Orchestra (in memory of the exiled South African musicians the Blue Notes) and Keith Tippett’s Tapestry.

 

Since his move in the early 1990s from free jazz saxophonist to studio based composer, Martin Archer has produced a series of highly acclaimed CDs on his Discus label which combine electronics-based structures with written and improvised parts for brass, woodwind, strings and voices. Elements from jazz, free improvisation, contemporary classical music, electronica, and cutting edge rock music are all present within his work.  As a performer, Archer seeks to avoid the inert and inexpressive performance style inherent in much live electronic music. 

Archer acknowledges groups such as Faust, Henry Cow, Soft Machine and Magma as being highly influential in his work alongside Cage, Stockhausen, Feldman, and of course the everpresent forces of AACM jazz, 1970's British jazz and European free improvisation. This combination of sources makes him a unique inhabitant of the school of English maverick composer / improvisers.

 

Together, Tippetts & Archer have produced 4 CDs since 2009, beginning with the poetry and abstraction of Ghosts of Gold, but quickly discovering a taste for songform, occasionally conventional, across subsequent releases and thereby providing a platform for Tippetts to express the full range of her music journey and interests.

 

The live Ensemble aspect of their collaboration brings interpretations for live band into the hands of a group of highly regarded, versatile and experienced musicians each of whom is considered to be a composer and band leader of substance in their own right.

  

REVIEWS

 

This double album feels genuinely experimental.  And it's often an exhilarating listen, the singer and the multi-instrumentalist (and their 12 excellent fellow musicians) attempting to explore genuinely new ground.  Tippetts has a remarkable voice, of course, her melodies are appealingly serpentine, to borrow a title of one of their previous collaborations.  Marcus O'Dair, JAZZWISE

 

Tippett's organic fluidity contrasts with Archer's digitised dreamscapes. - Stewart Lee, SUNDAY TIMES

 

This album pushes the boundaries of many genres.  Not only do we hear the traditions of jazz, whether it is influences of swing, extended techniques, or free playing.  We also have the challenge of traditional R&B beats sounding away from the usual rap, or head nodding vibe we’re used to.  Tippetts and Archer have done as they set out to do.  They’ve delivered a work that could sit well with all ages and could possibly influence single-minded listeners to open their ears to a new genre.– Harriet Syndercombe-Court -  www.sandybrownjazz.co.uk 

 

Vestigium is the latest collaboration between Martin and vocalist Julie Tippetts. Every release in their series of works seems to magically rise above the previous  set. This is no mean feat as each of their projects are quite wonderful affairs. This latest set is no exception as the individual works often vary drastically in their sound but manage to create a bigger picture which holds all of them together. Sonic backdrops can be minimal and shimmering with the vocal lines drifting through the landscape. Other times, a steady bassline and percussion beat bring the funk to the fore.  Listening to these works, it seems like both Martin and Julie were destined to lock their creative energies together. Julie's dexterous vocalizations meld perfectly with the music. Martin's ear for detail and the ability to create subtle layers for the vocals makes for a tapestry of aural delights. The final work in the set - Stalking the Vision - is a fine example of this sonic synergy in action. - CHRIS MELOCHE - Wired For Sound

 

This fourth collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Martin Archer features a seductive, exotic soundworld that both cossets and challenges Tippetts’ intricately layered vocals as they accrue and converge into startling harmonies. Over two discs, her words ricochet off sub-strata pulses, terse ambient shifts and urgent beats. Poetic cadences glower and fret amid luscious swarms of simmering brass, buzzing double bass and darting acerbic electric guitar. An intense, shapeshifting tour de force, it could well be her best since 1975’s classic Sunset Glow. Delivers rewarding material that's imaginative and immensely satisfying. - Sid Smith, PROG 

Something like where Pop could have ended up if the commitment to progress and experimentation hadn’t been abandoned. - Anthony Donovan, SOUND PROJECTOR

 

Tippetts [sings with] rich tone and soulfulness.....this is a one-off for listeners willing to hang up all preconceptions about free jazz, noise, collages, meaning and language, electronics or pretty much anything else. - John Fordham, Guardian

 

Enchanting and enchanted - Alessandro Achilli, Radio Musical Perspectives

 

An epic journey acted out over ceaselessly inventive soundscape.  The album may well convince you Archer’s self-proclaimed status as a “unique inhabitant of the school of English maverick composers” is no idle boast.  - NEIL NIXON from the book "500 ALBUMS YOU WON'T BELIEVE UNTIL YOU HEAR THEM"

 

And when Tippetts sings, Archer draws out that wonderful, blues-tinged sound from her voice. This is the record that Tippetts always had in her and if I say it’s every bit as good as her Sunset Glow from 1976, then those that know will understand what praise that truly is. - Duncan Heining, JAZZWISE

Breath sounds and mechanical sounds combine effortlessly; Tippetts speaks and sings with equal weight and resonance; jazz and folk and art song combine in a way that clinches the aesthetic born under Keith Tippett's stewardship at the old Rare Music Club. If these are the New Arcadians, welcome them with patience and warmth. They speak in a rough and elusive dialect. Best not understand them too quickly. - Brian Morton, WIRE

 

Another stalwart of UK improvised music (and more) is Sheffield's Martin Archer. Electro-acoustic music, improvisation, cut-up experiments, ensemble playing - who knows what we can expect from his next project? Apart from honesty, invention and high-quality music, that is. On Ghosts of Gold (DISCUS 37CD), he collaborates once again with Julie Tippetts, herself no less important a figure in the world of jazz and improvised music. Her songs and poems - half sung, half-recited - are set against strange musical backdrops provided by Archer, producing a total effect that's as close as we'll come to a 21st century Façade (William Walton and Edith Sitwell). Tippett's dense verbiage may appear heavy going at first, but I sense that it's laced with the same basic semi-supernatural pastoral and pagan imagery as you'll find on many an example of classic UK revivalist folk (Shirley Collins, The Young Tradition). If only the numerous listeners in the audience who profess their allegiance to contemporary "dark folk" would bend an ear to this CD, they might be pleasantly surprised. As to the overall sound of this weirdster, "uncanny" would not be too strong a word to describe the inventive and mysterious combinations Archer has pulled from his panoply of keyboards, woodwinds, electronics and percussion. As Ms Tippetts puts it, this is "the magic of the unexpected" - Ed Pinsent, SOUND PROJECTOR

 

This is not their first collaboration, but it is their first complete record as a duo. Julie Tippetts’ voice has aged pretty well: reciting or improvising, she is rapturing. As for Martin Archer, he’s an original in the noblest and most exciting meaning of the word. Everything he does is at least worth a listen, and often fascinating. He has a unique way of fiddling with electronics, adding sax, clarinet and violin to it, combining and arranging it all into something that recalls European free improvisation, delves into acousmatics, and draws inspiration from Soft Machine, all in one! This album is quieter than In Stereo Gravity (his latest solo release) and clearly constructed around Tippetts’ voice and poems. I’ve been singing Archer’s praise for years at the very least, listen to In Stereo Gravity (also featuring Tippetts) or Winter Pilgrim Arriving, but don’t miss on Ghosts of Gold, it’s...gold! - Francois Couture, DELIRE

 

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. Uncannily entertaining and intriguing, Archer adds a cinematic flavour 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

 

A sensation of intimacy, of proximity to the voice of the emotion and physical presence of Julie TIPPETTS, characterises the whole of the recital, with its strong tempos, lulls and moments of grace. It results in a totally homogenous, powerful and original work, fashioned with passion and patience, the privileged witness of the artistic experience of (almost) a lifetime. - Théo JARRIER - REVUE & CORRIGEE