122CD - Martin Archer & John Jasnoch - Provenance - CD plus download

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Martin Archer and John Jasnoch have a musical relationship which goes all the way back to the early 1980s when they were both a part of jazz-punk pell mellers Bass Tone Trap.  Over the subsequent years they have played and recorded together occassionally, previously as ASK, and now as this no frills improvised music duo which allows both musicians to utilise the full range of their respective instrumentation.  This new work was recorded in the same place at the same time, one day in July 2021.  The conversation continues.


Martin Archer
Sopranino, saxello, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, flute, bass harmonica

John Jasnoch
Electric guitar, acoustic 12 string guitar, lap steel guitar, mandolin, banjo, oud, ukulele


Don’t download, buy the disc.  Before you get to this gene of music you’ll be holding a cover package, in its own right a quality art artefact consisting of 125 photographs by Tony Kemplen.  They are blocked and juxtaposed in rows without any lettering or explanation.  This is indeed, Provenance.  Now put on the music.  Refracted, abstracted, self possessed duets; music that tips a targeted strike toward pioneers like Derek Bailey and John Russell yet gives off a sound that keeps on building a personal circumference owned entirely by Martin Archer and John Jasnoch. I hear Provenance as a whole, the use of track titles only there to indicate specifics. We’re all intrigued by labels. We live by labels don’t we?   The opening sequence of Mynediad is all popping strings and (to my ears) alto. There’s glissandos pitching into a dense labyrinth of saxophone language.  It immediately marvels technique, breath control and creative content.  The lines tune-through into World Heartbreak/Nuh with acoustic strings drawing modal scales referencing raga.  Senses are spoken to; this is non-verbal dialogue but I’m tempted to answer back.  Like listening in on other people’s conversations and butting-in on stuff that’s too good to miss out on.  The long discourse of Railroad Blues/To The Tiltyard is sax and lap steel guitar.  A sentence that conjures up images of Ry Cooder and Americana interplay – at no point does Provenance go Into The Purple Valley.  Somewhere, deep down in the bone marrow it’s there but so far down it’s become fused into Archer/Jasnoch’s radical stripping down of dialogue.  It would be true to describe the end of this section as “sax riffing over inverted blues” but any thought of Tiltyard being spun out in a Tex/Mex bar room is absurd… making it all the more wonderful. As is the Slide Catch/Lawn Prism sequence that follows.  Here Martin Archer’s flute technique is central.  Unwavering held notes speaking a breath control of high order; more to the point, they balance an exquisite balm into the soundscape.  We’re over half way through when the extended Provenance passage is introduced.  Both musicians are chasing the muse-duet. John Jasnoch’s approach to ‘free improv’ electric guitar is a giant step further on to Derek Bailey, no easy step to achieve.  In a pure sound sense these plugged-in strings are cast close to the ‘jazz’ tradition.  He still snares a rare spare use of sustain and harmonics throughout the mix; it’s a tangled delight.  By the time these two kinetic scientists reach the final seven minutes Jasnoch has switched to plucked banjo turning the old vaudeville on its head in the guise of a kora with metal strings. This leaves Martin Archer breathing an intimate rich headache inside the reed of Adolphe Sax. If you’re listening to improv, you can’t ASK (sic) for more than this?  As the last note dies Archer asks Jasnoch, “Did that get to where you wanted it to go?” One word reply: “Exactly.”  This is an invigorating session that won’t be on the shelf anytime soon.  I’ve got a long road trip this week, Provenance will be soundtracking me.  Some conversations don’t go away.  This is one of them.    - Steve Day, September 2021



Discus head honcho Archer’s a jack-of-all-trades, a contemporary renaissance man under whose feet not a single blade of grass grows. Whether stretching the parameters of music to make it truly progressive (in the trio Das Rad), organizing electronics into sound art as one-half of Inclusion Principle, stirring the galvanic environs of the Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere, or bending woodwinds to his own will across a score of solo and duo projects, Archer’s restless spirit catapults his limitless creative muse into all of this and more through a catalog of never less than fascinating sonic tableaux. Here, he goes full improv on this set of duels with quixotic string-thwacker Jasnoch, who’s no slouch in the gee-tar department himself. What ensues are both musicians’ wreaking general havoc across your high fidelity system as they engage in a series of unbridled interplays pitting horn against guitar in ways both startlingly unconventional and eminently embraceable. The digipak panels’ juxtapose tiles of stark magic realism against one another—birds on a wire, cones, flowers, fighter planes, skull masks, color-shapes, etc.—literal and literary references that are reflected in the pair’s enigmatic track titles and on-the-fly performances. Archer and Jasnoch’s “Provenance” comes through as mismatched weather systems colliding in various violent ways, cloudbanks of saxophones split open by Jasnoch’s irruptive lightning bursts and obtuse phrasing, as spiky, calculated, and free as Derek Bailey in his most untethered flights of fancy. The thirteen minutes of “Railroad Blues/To the Tiltyard” feature Archer’s acrylic yet astringent horn lines that puncture the air like shafts of dry ice, further strip-mined by Jasnoch as he warps the most skeletal of blues structures into a pretzel logic of his own elaborate making. Endlessly shapeshifting, this is a recording of such hyperactivity its recombinant energy never allows for respite—in a good way—the player’s ability to juggle a seemingly inexhaustive sonic phraseology holds the ear’s interest thanks to contours sharp enough to cut glass. - Darren Bergstein, DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY, NYC



By contrast, Archer’s collaboration with John Jasnoch is a conversation in improv that finds both players pushing the other into dizzying directions of volume and texture.  Their musical relationship goes back four decades, and on the elastic guitar and delirious horns of the opening track, the sounds they produce are almost speech-like; it feels like a conversation left dormant for years and then taken up again with no noticeable lag. The guitar ebbs and surges, the plucking and throbbing harsh, and it seems like rural mania under a clear blue sky, the two instruments causing similar sensations as they dovetail and drift into sublime peace.  The impression is of two players searching for a common end but using disparate methods is key on “World Heartbreak / Nuh”, where the bending strings of the guitar and the deep foam of the sax gives it a sultry succession. As the piece continues, the image of a child running endlessly in circles, waiting for the thrill of dizziness to envelop them, is just joyful as John searches the fretboard for answers to a never-ending list of questions.  The variety of instruments played here is mind-blowing, each player utilising six or seven to maximise the whirling effect. There is a train motion that could also be a loose radio signal on “Railroad Blues”, but the Hawaiian-style pedal steel melts that idea of movement into wide-open and dusty vista in which the yearning sax tugs at the heartstrings. The mournful battleground of “Slide Catch”, with its mystical flute and an ancient plucking, gives a certain lyrical abstraction, the scampering of the gentle guitar giving way to the subtle whisper of the flute, their secrets passed on through the ages.  The dancing duo in the long-form “Provenance” has a fistful of passion, but also an element of uncertainty. The jazzy yet abstract chords are really sweet, with lovely little harmonics that ring in the ears long after the piece has moved on, its intricate pattern weaving with pockets of space left to be filled with faint sounds, like esoteric information awaiting just the right listener. You always feel like that person when listening to this album, as if somehow Martin and John have tapped into some innate language which binds you and draws you into their little world, if only for the duration of the album.  Provenance is a lovely, intricate and pleasurable place to be and all the more special for its scarcity. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ http://freq.org.uk/



JOHN JASNOCH, Jg. 1953, war wie MARTIN AR­CHER ein Bass Tone Trap-per und sie blieben einander seit 1982 verbunden in The Bone Or­chestra und in Ask, und wenn nicht mit Archer, dann frönte er mit Charlie Collins dem Sheffield-Sound, in The Jonathan S. Podmore Method oder The Navigators. Auf Provenance(Discus 122) improvisiert er im Juli 2021 mit Archers Gebläse an Alto-, Tenor- & Baritonsax, Sopranino, Saxello, Quietsch-, Zirp- und Flötflöte und zupft, scharrt, pickt dabei neben E-, 12-string- & Lap-Steel-Guitar noch Mandoline, Banjo, Oud etc. Plinkplonk made in Sheffield? Logo. Schließlich sind Derek Bailey und Tony Oxley dort geboren und haben mit Gavin Bryars, der dort Philosophie studierte, als Joseph Holbrooke so um 1965 rum das freie Gekrabbel und Gerappel ausgebrütet. Provenance – Herkunft – meint also: Von hier, direkt von der Quelle, mit genuinem Zugriff ('Mynediad') als, wenn nicht Manier, so doch als Spirit so alt wie der 'Rudstone Monolith' und ungebrochen übers Mittelalter – 'To the Tiltyard' (Turnierplatz) – in die jüngere Ver­gangenheit bewahrt – 'Railroad Blues'. Jasnoch – Archer spielen wie Bailey – Evan Parker, wie G. F. Fitzgerald – Lol Coxhill mit eigenem Stil und Gusto in jenem Frei- und Eigensinn, in dem paradiesisch- 'primitiv' und Hohe Schule ein und dasselbe sind. Die Insel ist dafür eine gute Brutstätte gewesen, das Copyright liegt jedoch beim Homo ludens. Mein Lieblingsduett hier in diesem drahtharfig beprickelten, beklampften, betwangten Fächer von schnaubendem Bariton bis kirrendem Soprano kommt zuletzt, wenn Archer in Replik auf 'I Know There's A Question' als Wechselspiel von verspon­nenem Tenorsax und spröder Mandoline 'Ground­hog's Answer' mit Bassharmonika murrt und Jas­noch Ukulele klimpert. Das Ganze ist visuell ein­gebettet in – von ein paar modernistisch-brutalis­tischen Hausecken und einer Düsenjägerstaffel abgesehen - kunterbunten Blüten- und Formen­reichtum. Kurz: Martin Archers Scheibenwelt ist einfach göttlich. - Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY 


Provenance is a recording of an improvised performance they did in the same place at the same time on 1 day in July 2021. The result is an experimental and rather complex improvised jazz recording where Martin plays sopranino, saxello, alto, tenor & baritone sax, flute and bass harmonica, and John plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, oud and the ukulele. If you’re already familiar with Martin’s past efforts, then you will love this album as well. Both musicians do not hold back to try out new stuff and despite its divided into 6 long songs, it feels like one long interesting adventure to explore. - Gabor Kleinbloesem, STRUTTER'ZINE.



The musical collaboration between Archer and Jasnoch has a long history and goes back to the early 80s when both participated in Bass Tone Trap, producing jazz-punk like music. Jasnoch started with playing bluegrass and country but turned to improvisation near the end of the 70s and became a member of Sheffield Free Music Group. After their Bass Tone Trap experience, Archer and Jasnoch played together as a duo from time to time, or they met in other collaborations. After their last concert in 2019, they decided for doing more shows in 2020. Then the virus came, and instead, they chose a studio recording halfway this year. Both play a wide range of instruments on this recording: Martin Archer (sopranino, saxello, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, flute, bass harmonica) and John Jasnoch (electric guitar, acoustic 12 string guitar, lap steel guitar, mandolin, banjo, oud, ukulele). Archer is known for the many different contexts of his musical activity. Practising many different styles and approaches: progressive, jazz, ambient-induced music, etc. Not often do we meet him in a free improvisation project moving away from jazz and other idioms. This is the case with this duo work of often non-idiomatic improvisation. Because of the variety of instruments, their dialogues evoke very different atmospheres and moods. Many colours and many techniques are used to create distinguished improvisations. Always on a high communicative level, they invite us into many sides of their very personal and rich musical partnership. - Dolf Mulder, VITAL WEEKLY http://www.vitalweekly.net/1312.html