Album Reviews Martin Archer – Anthropology Band

Published on 1st December 2019

Martin Archer – Anthropology Band


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Martin Archer, creative hub of the Sheffield jazz/avant music scene, and main man behind Discus Music, has realised a long-held ambition with this album, presenting the same music in two strikingly different formats. The former relays the music in its “core state”, in this case a fusion septet, and the latter laying it down in the form of an orchestrated larger ensemble, with an arrangement underlining the fusion heft of the smaller grouping.

Anthroplogy Band, by its very name implies something human, but somehow primal, and the first septet CD gives that idea form. Using the space offered by simple bass riffs, the music goes through changes, taking in psychedelic guitar, with sax and trumpet punctuation, luminous electric piano, and bass-led vibraphonic cosmic drift.

The amiable piano lurch of Snap Call/Back Wall wakes us from temporary reverie, and the finger-poppin’ call and response of sax, trumpet, and squall guitar converse in strange tongues as mental fingers are clicked in time. This album centre point injects a sense of humour into proceedings, not dissimilar to what Faust used to do in another time and in another universe. It also serves to highlight the musicality on offer here, and puts to rest any fear of anything excessively outré. Martin has been known to scare the chickens, but avian peace is maintained here!

Just as Miles was a master of using the space between the notes to maximum effect, so we find the same methods applied here, the comedown from Snap Call… stretching through the understated balladry of the short but sweet Common Cause, and lingering within the sonorous and lithe People Talking Blues, which slowly but surely rises to the challenge, on the back of some fabulous trumpet blowing. Softly softly catchee monkey… in fact, the spacious groove continues until we arrive at the phat and funky concluding track The Wrong Stuff, a dishevelled lurch of a thing with a gloriously and intentionally messy guitar solo.

The big band arrangements on the second CD sees Martin’s septet compositions reimagined in tandem with trumpeter and flugelhorn player Charlotte Keeffe, with both attempting to answer the express question “what might it have sounded like if Gil Evans’ large arrangements for Miles had continued on into his electric era?”

The angry molten guitar squelch of Give Me Back Some Truth is here aided by the heavies of the orchestrations, and the added weight is carried with growing menace. There is more going on within the spaces of The Dancer and the Spark, fleeting conversations in the zoo at night. Behind Another Son becomes detective noir, but the murder weapon stubbornly refuses to be found, the arrangement is intricate, and becomes dense.

The repetitive Soft Machine-like bass riff of Why So? is now expanded into new territory, and its big, confident re-arrangement works just fine. And so we arrive back in the middle, where a looser, more fluid version of Snap Call/Back Wall is the order of the day, and all sorts of space fauna zooms about and happily squawks away around the big brass-and-reeds riff. The Gil Evans/Miles question of earlier has been well and truly answered.

Luckily for us all, Martin tells us that this music is “designed for concert performance”, and that “this band will be touring the U.K. in the new year”. Can’t wait!

No video clips, dear readers, it’s all on the Bandcamp link (see below) anyway! 🙂

TRACK LISTING
01. Fiction Fraction (0:56)
02. Give Me Back Some Truth (7:58)
03. The Dancer And The Spark (3:16)
04. Behind Another Sun (6:05)
05. Room Of Boiling Teeth (1:09)
06. Why So? (5:50)
07. Concrete On Sunshine Steps (4:24)
08. Snap Call/Back Wall (7:38)
09. Common Cause (3:00)
10. People Talking Blues (9:59)
11. Charlotte’s Dilemma (3:54)
12. Friction Faction (3:58)
13. Fire On 88th (8:21)
14. Palace of Boiling Teeth (3:55)
15. The Wrong Stuff 4 U (7:37)

Total Time – 78:00

[Note: The track times are for the first “Septet” album. The tracks are repeated for the second “big band” album, the timings will be slightly different.]

MUSICIANS
Martin Archer – Saxophones, Electronics, Composer
Charlotte Keeffe – Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Arranger
Chris Sharkey – Guitar, Electronics
Pat Thomas – Keyboards, Electronics
Corey Mwamba – Vibraphone
Dave Sturt – Bass Guitar
Peter Fairclough – Drums
~ With, on second album:
Kim Macari – Trumpet
George Murray – Trombone
Ben Higham – Tuba
Mick Somerset – Concert, Alto & Bass Flutes, Piccolo
Nathan Bettany – Oboe, Cor Anglais
James Mainwaring – Soprano Saxophone
Hannah Brady – Alto Saxophone
Riley Stone-Lonergan – Tenor Saxophone
Alicia Gardener-Trejo – Baritone Saxophone

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Discus Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 27th August 2019

LINKS
Martin Archer – Facebook

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