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Heritage and Ringtones

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Album Review

An album of opposites and contrasts, in which Martin Archer obviously poured everything he had, Heritage and Ringtones follows a vein similar to Ghost Lily Cascade and Winter Pilgrim Arriving, while integrating the new grounds covered on English Commonflowers. The result is one of his most endearing albums yet. The balance between yearning melodies, experimentation and noise defines a new level of perfection in his work. The title refers to the two interlaced sequences of pieces presented here. "Heritage" points to a set of highly personalized covers and tributes to Archer's influences. The album opens with Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" (of which only the melody is recognizable). Bert Jansch and Anne Briggs are also revisited. "Where's Mike?" adds another nod to the Soft Machine's original keyboardist Mike Ratledge and his genre-defining organ sound (this track is significantly better than Archer's previous tribute to Ratledge, found on English Commonflowers). "Angelus Vander" pays homage to Magma with nine minutes of escalating madness propelled by a bass drum pulse and a mind-numbing one-note rhythmic line hammered at the piano. Electronics, saxophones and who knows what are gradually added until the tune turns into a devilish orgy of sounds. The "Ringtone" series applies the recomposing process Archer uses on his previous albums to recast improvisations into new pieces. Harpist Rhodri Davies, guitarist Tim Cole and bassist Simon H. Fell all have their playing reassembled into backing tracks for Archer's violectronics (a violin hooked to several effects for live electro-acoustic performance). He also reprocesses preexisting music from drummer Ingar Zach and composer Chris Meloche. The "Ringtone" series is slightly more abstract, but still features its share of pretty moments alleviating the challenging but highly rewarding listen. Again, Archer has managed to produce an hour of unique music, outside any known genres or schools. The closing track, "That Sheffield Sound," featuring an elegant sopranino sax line, acoustic guitar and outdated electronics, should be titled "That Archer Sound." Because no other labeling will do. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: 1957 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Martin Archer's career goes against every possible aspect of the music business. After 15 years as a sax player on the British improvisation scene, he called it quits, bought a synthesizer and a sequencer, and started to record dense and challenging experimental music that blends elements of free jazz and electronics. His records are released through his own Discus label and are available only through direct order from, as he refuses to distribute them. Martin Archer was born...
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Heritage and Ringtones, Martin Archer
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