Tag Archives: Martin Archer

Recent Arrivals: Discus & Leo Records

Martin Archer – Storytellers (Discus): Over the years, Sheffield-based musician and composer Martin Archer has issued several albums of music with various groups of musicians but, it’s a rarity to see something come out under his own name. This recent project is certainly a fine time to toot his own horn (so to say) as it’s another one of his excellent offerings.

Over the course of two CDs spanning nearly 2 1/2 hours, six “books” are related in suite form. Each book revolves around movements around a common theme. They feature performance by the full band as well as sections designed to highlight specific soloists.

Each book weaves its own tale which winds its way from start to finish with sparkling dexterity among the musicians. What seems to make this music really gain an extra dimension of life is the fact that almost all of it was recorded live in the studio by the group. There is very little done in the way of subsequent overdubbing of parts. This process has resulted in a sound which harks back to some of the best recorded jazz works from the past. Top marks, indeed!

Sergey Kuryokhin – The Spirit Lives (Leo): As mentioned in the liner notes of this set, Leo Records was the first record company to issue the music of Russian composer/musician Sergey Kuryokhin which was smuggled out of the Soviet Union. It seems only fitting that they have decided to issue this recording of a live performance celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his passing.

Recorded in July 2015, this set contains both an audio CD and DVD. The works are performed by Alexei Aigui & Ensemble 4’33”. The sixteen works contained in this performance show the breadth and scope of Kuryokhin’s catalogue of work.

The arrangements by Aigui which incorporate jazz and classical players brings the music a powerful scope. The strings build and sweep to propel the music to wonderful sonic heights as the jazz ensemble bob and weave a tapestry of sound.

There are even moments when the music rocks out with near Status Quo guitar riffery in pieces like Tragedy, Rock Style.

This is an essential document which truly does justice to the legacy and memory of the late Sergey Kuryokhnin.


Wrapping up 2015

Well, I guess that 2015 has turned out to be an eventful year after all. Back in April, I celebrated my 25th anniversary on the radio at CHRW-FM here in London. I took that opportunity to announce my retirement from the airwaves. I’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of the folks who I’ve known at the station over all of those years. It was a lot of fun to be able to share music with my listeners over all of that time.

Before I left the radio station, I decided to continue to share my thoughts on music and create this music blog. Since I’ve had several hundreds of articles and reviews of music published over the years in various publications, it seemed like a natural progression. Since it’s introduction at the end of April, the Wired for Sound Blog has received a steady stream of hits and I’m very pleased with the positive feedback. It’s also nice to continue to receive musical contributions from a number of the musicians and record labels who had previously sent me music to feature on the radio programme. Thanks to all of the folks who have continued to visit the blog over the months.

Over the year, we’ve lost a number of important musicians and composers. I’ve written about many of them in the pages of the blog including Daevid Allen, Ornette Coleman, Dieter Moebius, Chris Squire, John Renbourn etc…

While I didn’t see a lot of concerts during the year, it was a great pleasure to attend the 50th anniversary performance of the Nihilist Spasm Band at Museum London. It’s always a special event to hear them play. Joe McPhee was a special guest at the show, too.

As a music fan, I’m always pleased to discover music by new artists. This year, two of my favourite new discoveries were Courtney Barnett and Ryley Walker. Their recent LPs have been spinning quite a bit around here during the year.

It’s also been another great year of sharing information and stories about music over at the Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Many thanks to all of my friends there who enjoy spinning vinyl and relating their stories. It’s my favourite place to visit here on the webernet.

It’s also been another productive year of music making for me, as well. I’ve had many enjoyable recording sessions with my friend and music partner Richard Moule with a number of excellent pieces of Transmorphous Sound Ensemble pieces now in the archives. We also had a great time performing at Grooves for Nuit Blanche back in June, Thanks to Troy and the folks there for allowing us the opportunity to perform in their space.

The year also presented some challenges. Back in March I had a scheduled surgery but, that was accompanied by another unexpected emergency surgery two weeks before that. Thanks to Richard for his help at that time. Also, thanks to all of my other friends for their well wishes and support. It was greatly appreciated.

So, now it’s time to look towards 2016. I’m looking forward to heading to England once again. It’s always a great time staying with my friends Simon and Ann. I’m also looking forward to performing again with my musical friends Martin Archer, Nick Robinson, Mick Beck and Charlie Collins.

Wishing everybody a happy and healthy 2016!


Recent Arrivals – Discus

If there is one thing that you can anticipate from the releases on the Discus label, it’s to expect the unexpected. This is a case in point.

frostlake is Sheffield-based singer, musician Jan Todd. On this debut release (White Moon, Black Moon), she creates layers of her voice and multiple instruments alongside contributions from other fine folks from the area including Martin Archer, Charlie Collins, Terry Todd and others.

The first thing that strikes you is the reverb-drenched near-whisper vocals. These are combined with layers of dreamy instrumentation that evokes a folky, psychedelic, progressive soundscape. It almost feels like one of those unearthed rarities of what is now termed “acid folk” recorded in the late ’60s or early ’70s.

However, the sound is brought up to date with one foot in the past and another with a hold on the present and future. The music is dreamy yet never slipping into a maudlin melancholy. There is always something going on to keep the listener engaged as the background sounds blend seamlessly with the often haunting layered vocals in the foreground. Definitely an album inviting repeated late-night listens.

Martin Archer’s latest release – Echoic Enchantment – is a collaboration with poet Bo Meson. Martin goes into some detail about the project’s genesis in the liner notes of the CD.

Inspired by a performance by Bo’s poetry group, Martin was inspired to create a work written around the text. The musical portion of the disc-length range from sparse basslines to haunting string sections evoking an atmosphere not unlike Ligeti or Pendereski. These sections are juxtaposed with others based on “directed improvisation” which have been edited and collaged featuring percussion, piano etc… which incorporate text which weaves its way into the soundscape.

The work flows and glides in several directions often creating a haunting and evocative atmosphere. A lengthy sonic journey that provides multi-layered scenery for the ears.

Discus website


Recent Arrivals – Discus


One of the best things about doing a radio programme featuring non-mainstream music for many years was receiving music from like-minded folks from around the globe. Such was the case back in the ’90s when I received a package of CDs from Martin Archer on his Discus label.

Martin continued to send me music and I continued to feature it on the airwaves. We also corresponded quite frequently and a musical relationship built up. In the ensuing years, we have played together live many times on my visits to the UK and we’ve also contributed to each other’s recordings.

When I visited Martin in Sheffield last June, he was in the midst of about a dozen different recording and performance ventures. At that time, he played me a number of recordings that he was working on. Many of these are now available on this latest trio of double-CD releases.

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.

Bad Tidings from Slackwater Drag is by Martin’s ten-piece big band called Engine Room Favourites. From the introductory tune – Song for Alice Coltrane – you know that you are in for a good ride. Tracks range from dense and frenetic to minimal improvised structures.

At times, I was put in the mind of Soft Machine and also was reminded of Julius Hemphill’s Big Band. The latter thought was confirmed as the concluding number of the set is a cover version of Hemphill’s classic track The Hard Blues. And ERF do a most admirable job in their performance.

Inclusion Principle’s Third Opening shows even more diversity for Martin and his cohorts. This is a trio which also includes Herve Perez and Peter Fairclough.

On this set, the sounds range from environmental field recordings, computer-generated sounds, saxophones, piano and percussion. From minimal soundscapes to wild hyper-rhythms, the pieces blend and weave their way through two CDs of diverse sonic contexts.

Definitely three more highlights for the ever-expanding Discus catalogue.

Discus Music website