Carla Diratz & the Archers Of Sorrow - The Scale

Catalogue page for this release

Mike Davies, December 2021
The album opens with a sparse drum beat and a bass line reminiscent of Faust, suddenly breaking out with keyboard and horns, topped by the rich, smoky voice of Carla - veering between a soft purr and impassioned growl. The lyrics are elliptical and , in keeping with the times, rather dark (the theme continues throughout the album without becoming 'depressing'). The second number surprised me, starting with sparse , dissonant piano and a vocal that begins with the smoky texture and suddenly turns into a blues / soul voice that made me think of Amy Winehouse! As the song progresses an unexpected curtain of mellotron-drenched descends (such an underused instrument these days !). Elsewhere, moments of heavily distorted guitar give way to desolate voice textures and a dark as hell melody. LOTS OF SPACE - with Carla intoning her poetry as the machines of the apocalypse draw ever closer. Further in, plucked strings and medieval recorders create a backdrop to sombre lyrics that at times seem to be on the edge of tears. There are shades of Henry Cow / Dagmar Krause on "La Digue" , with the scattered piano and woodwind flickering around the mix. 
 
"The Nature Of A Child" features Carla in almost torch singer mode, the dark clouded lyrics giving way to a slow, doleful swing. "Dove mi hai lasciata" is possibly my favourite track, opening with a systemic keyboard motif a la Terry Riley. The Italian lyrics , keys and bubbling sax actually reminded me of Franco Battiato circa "Sulle Corde di Aries". Ticking percussion and washes of electronic sound brighten the picture and a little bit of sunshine comes in.......for a while.... Elsewhere , Carla's voice is treated , multi tracked, backed by dense horns, keys and guitar (definitely a hint of Mike Ratledge in the organ sound) , backwards and forwards guitar and disembodied voices flit in and out of the mix. Tempos shift gear and it even gets 'heavy' for want of a better word....but here I am waxing lyrical - the only way to experience this music is to HEAR IT! One last point - beautiful sound and mixing, and remarkably, due to distance and COVID, most of the parts were recorded independently of each other, in different parts of the world...... beautiful package too. 
 
Dave Larder /Lincolnshire Arts & Music Bulletin 
When, in early 2020, Carla Diratz told me of a new project with English musicians, I was intrigued. Covid caused delays to the recording and release, but “The Scale” is now out there, in all it’s glory. Once again, Carla contributes lyrics and vocals, alongside Martin Archer, Nick Robinson, with Dave Sturt (bass guitar), Adam Fairclough (drums), Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet), Jan Todd and Julie Archer (choral vocals), collectively know as “The Archers of Sorrow. Recorded by the musicians at various studios, it’s all put together by Martin Archer at Discus Music Studio in Sheffield. Produced by Martin and Nick Robinson, it really is an amazing collaboration.
 
Robert Wyatt once described Carla as “the SOULFUL Ms Diratz”, on hearing her version of “Sea Song”. From the opening notes of the title track, it is obvious that this is going to be an extremely pleasant listening experience. Borrowing from Jazz, Rock, Blues and even world music genres, the album winds it’s way through variation, but with Carla’s voice as the one constant ingredient.  The music itself is diverse. Some tracks are delivered in English, others in French. Carla’s influences make intermittent appearances. The haunting song, “Mother” and “Teen Dance” (which seems to be a throwback to the Chain period), are illustrations of this album’s musical diversity. However, that is not to take attention away from the whole album, which is, another exquisite offering from Ms Diratz. During recent times, music has thrown together some strange bedfellows, often recorded in bathrooms and even outdoors. That is not what serious music is about, but ‘The Scale” is indeed a serious project. It is indeed soulful, grown up music for grown up times
 
Steve Day
This Carla Diratz album does my head in. I’ve now had the recording several weeks, re-run it over and over on endless car journeys throughout this Covid-Winter; taken it in blocks of sound gone-midnight, the house - fridge cold, speakers shattering silence like all meditation is but memory; heard the French part-translate in the brain then fragment into Esperanto; allowed the song Mother to recall “…seven different tongues beating up like drums inside her lungs”; allowed Charlotte Keefe’s magnificent trumpet break on Merry-go-round to do away with sampling Stravinsky.  The Scale is a dark bright thing, even at this late stage it could be my album of the year. Targeted to speak sorrow, Carla Diratz can’t help but somehow come across the senses as a valediction. You either take the weight of The Scale, feel it in the ears, give in to its great glory moments (title track, The nature of a child, Menhir et gemissements, Dove mi hai lasciata, Teen dance, Le chagrin, Desert prayer) or decide you’re not ready to be dismembered.  In which case, better pass it on to someone you really love and let them do the deed instead.
 
Scraps of detail: - If like me your experience of Adam Fairclough’s drumming has been that of a classy jazzbuff then this recording spins a different drummer’s story. In places the kit is laid into as if decking demons; 4/4 thunder pummelled onto the Diratz vocabulary like a second vocal. And Nick Robinson’s guitars are everywhere; slicing power chords then intricate filigree followed by ‘surf’ guitar – as much Lenny Kaye as anything coming out of fusion, often sonic yet sensuous Left Bank scratching at leftfield. As usual, Mr Archer’s own instruments are blindingly unobvious, the catalyst for continual mood swings into which Charlotte Keefe’s trumpet is both siren and sound installation.  Clearly though this is Carla Diratz’s album.  Sung in French and English, her voice, authoritative and demanding. A songbook as diverse as this one has to be given a lot of ear-time.  It re-pays with unravelling mysteries, like an orchestrated spy novel. 
 
Big music does your head in, you have been warned.