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Controlling Crowds, Pts. I-III (Limited Edition)

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Album Review

When Archive entered the Swiss Top Ten, it obviously wasn't because of their novelty factor, because Controlling Crowds is an exploration of the trip-hop sound developed in Bristol over a decade prior (and, admittedly, explored by this London-based band since the mid-‘90s). That said, it is an intriguing, if slightly patchy, record densely packed with music that may not necessary control crowds, but does a good job of hypnotizing the occasional individual listener. Archive are faithful to Massive Attack and Portishead in their core sound — Controlling Crowds has the same measured midtempo beats counterpointing the pianos, synths, and vocals to create the classic tension-in-the-night mood that is at the heart and soul of trip-hop; however, it's only the starting point for Archive, and during the run of the album, they romp through a fair share of adjacent genres. Some synth passages sound like new age gone over to the dark side, a couple of beat-less moments when the singer just whines calmly over subdued key textures actually remind of Radiohead's "Karma Police"; still others feature rapping, guitar-backed Walls of Sound, or ambient ballads halfway between Lamb and a Ghost in a Shell soundtrack. The bad news for the band is that those tricks don't turn Controlling Crowds into something original; but the effort itself is commendable, and (the good news) it makes the album versatile and fun to explore. While most trip-hop albums settle on a single vibe, this record runs the whole gamut, from quiet ambience to almost darkwave drama; the dramatic moments, in fact, dominate, but there's plenty of other stuff here. This doesn't make Controlling Crowds the most smooth-flowing album out there, and it's definitely too much to digest on the first try, but the record is coherent and catchy (well, rather, entrancing) — enough so to invite and reward additional spins.

Customer Reviews


Fantastic band uk tour please please!


Steve Harris is a legend!!!!! Dude!


Formed: 1994 in South London, London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The trip-hop project Archive was formed by Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths, who originally met in 1990. The pair released a few singles on their own Swam label, worked with Genaside II, and formed Archive in 1994. Signed to Island, Keeler and Griffiths released their debut, Londinium, in 1997. After splitting briefly,...
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Controlling Crowds, Pts. I-III (Limited Edition), Archive
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