Martin Archer

Primary Instrument: Electronics

Born: March 9, 1957    

Martin Archer -
Sopranino, alto and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, bass recorder, violectronics, keyboards, software instruments

Since his move in the early 1990s from free jazz saxophonist to studio based electronics composer, Archer has produced a series of highly acclaimed CDs which combine electronics-based structures with written and improvised parts for brass, woodwind, strings and voices. Elements from jazz, free improvisation, contemporary classical music, electronica, and cutting edge rock music are all present within his work.

Archer's concerts, in which he plays woodwind plus electronics, feature a mix of improvised and composed elements, and will typically use raw material from various studio recordings recombined and reprocessed in real time using laptop technology. ...
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“Bright eyed and cleverer than 1000 contemporary musicians” - Ben Watson

“Martin was a man at one with the performance, engaging with the laptop like a genuine instrument. Elements of his show were challenging, consciousness shifting, peaceful and reassuring, thoroughly confident with his avant-garde originality.” - Freenoise

It takes nothing away from Martin Archer, a composer I admire greatly, if I suggest that Tippetts is the inspiration behind this record. And yet, it would be a lesser achievement without him. Archer is a collagist of rare skill. He seems able to create something piece by piece and allow it to unfold on its own terms. I’ve said it before but someone really should give the boy an orchestra for Xmas. Perhaps then his talent might get its due recognition. Here he sets Tippetts’ Gothic poems and songs inside exquisite and sometimes disturbing frames. Not once does he clutter the vision. Sometimes it’s sparse, as on Daydreams And Candle-Light or on Moonshine, just words with the instrumentation barely breathing behind. At others like on The Bear Walks At Night or Rainsong words and voice are given a powerful, echoing, industrial background. And when Tippetts sings, Archer draws out that wonderful, blues-tinged sound from her voice. This is the record that Tippetts always had in her and if I say it’s every bit as good as her Sunset Glow from 1976, then those that know will understand what praise that truly is. - Duncan Heining, JAZZWISE

Another stalwart of UK improvised music (and more) is Sheffield's Martin Archer. Electro-acoustic music, improvisation, cut-up experiments, ensemble playing - who knows what we can expect from his next project? Apart from honesty, invention and high-quality music, that is. On Ghosts of Gold (DISCUS 37CD), he collaborates once again with Julie Tippetts, herself no less important a figure in the world of jazz and improvised music. Her songs and poems - half sung, half-recited - are set against strange musical backdrops provided by Archer, producing a total effect that's as close as we'll come to a 21st century Façade (William Walton and Edith Sitwell). Tippett's dense verbiage may appear heavy going at first, but I sense that it's laced with the same basic semi-supernatural pastoral and pagan imagery as you'll find on many an example of classic UK revivalist folk (Shirley Collins, The Young Tradition). If only the numerous listeners in the audience who profess their allegiance to contemporary “dark folk” would bend an ear to this CD, they might be pleasantly surprised. As to the overall sound of this weirdster, “uncanny” would not be too strong a word to describe the inventive and mysterious combinations Archer has pulled from his panoply of keyboards, woodwinds, electronics and percussion. As Ms Tippetts puts it, this is “the magic of the unexpected” - Ed Pinsent, SOUND PROJECTOR

This is not their first collaboration, but it is their first complete record as a duo. Julie Tippetts’ voice has aged pretty well: reciting or improvising, she is rapturing. As for Martin Archer, he’s an original in the noblest and most exciting meaning of the word. Everything he does is at least worth a listen, and often fascinating. He has a unique way of fiddling with electronics, adding sax, clarinet and violin to it, combining and arranging it all into something that recalls European free improvisation, delves into acousmatics, and draws inspiration from Soft Machine, all in one! This album is quieter than In Stereo Gravity (his latest solo release) and clearly constructed around Tippetts’ voice and poems. I’ve been singing Archer’s praise for years at the very least, listen to In Stereo Gravity (also featuring Tippetts) or Winter Pilgrim Arriving, but don’t miss on Ghosts of Gold, it’! - Francois Couture, DELIRE

Here’s a record you could proudly file alongside other greats such as Keith Tippett’s Centipede, Soft Machine’s Third, or Carla Bley’s Escalator Over The Hill - Ed Pinsent, SOUND PROJECTOR

Archer presents a shrewdly edited deliberation between rock grooves, improv and jazz.....mulched together not as a tepid fusion, but as an incisively argued whole that is confident enough to let the awkward corners just be.....An enigmatic but engaging commentary on modern living - Philip Clark, WIRE

“His music has a clarity and decisiveness unmatched in anyone so pluralistic about genre” - Ben Watson

“Articulate and resourceful” - Dave Ilic, WIRE

“A menacing intelligence” - Mark Sinker, NME

“Fascinating … defies categorisation … an internal coherence which makes it compulsive listening … an art-rock mini-universe” - Joe Cushley, Mojo (re Winter pilgrim arriving)

“Archer's nonconformist musical approach somehow echoes the more conventional Englishness of Soft Machine and Nick Drake without recourse to imitation, flattery or recognisable tunes. Mixing pastoral acoustic sounds with electronic flourishes, the album could be seen as an answer to Gastre del Sol's like-minded appropriation of classic Americana, or simply enjoyed as one of the most beautiful examples of this often intimidating genre” -Stewart Lee, Sunday Times (re Winter pilgrim arriving)

“I love what Martin Archer does. Year after year he manages to surprise me. This is one of his most accomplished works. Daring, demanding and highly rewarding” - Francois Couture, L'Inentendu. (re Winter pilgrim arriving)

“I'll end simply by urging everyone who reads this review to hear from themselves. Winter Pilgrim Arriving already has my vote for one of the richest and most profound recordings of the year 2000.” - Bill Tilland, Motion

“This is so zeitgeisty it's scary, and Archer really ought to be better known on the other side of the Atlantic, where chancers abound doing this sort of thing with little real musical commitment, often in search of witty postmodern gags or a sort of ersatz beat sensibility. This is an ultra-contemporary version of avant folk which can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Eugene Chadbourne's reimagining of hillbilly music in its lack of respect for any dogma, be it from the world of folk, improv or the electroacoustic avant garde. In its sense of unified diversity and its ever-changing atmospherics, one might also mention Zorn's film music: it really is that good, and it's also distinctively English and completely unique.” - Richard Cochrane, Musings ( re Winter pilgrim arriving)

“Another stunning record of thoroughly contemporary music. Fans of the downtown Chicago scene, particularly Gastr Del Sol, will love this delicate, free music. Archer creates an intimate feel with sparse arrangements and gentle waves of distortion. Acoustic instruments and electronics are weaved together to produce pieces that are like a long journey; all preparation and anticipation. It's only when the CD stops spinning that you realise what a trip you've had.” - Joe Murray, Billy Liar (re Winter pilgrim arriving)

  • Blue Meat, Black Diesel & Engine Room Favourites

  • Ghosts Of Gold

  • In Stereo Gravity

    Artists Own
  • Heritage And Ringtones

    Artists Own
  • English Commonflowers

    Artists Own
  • Fluvium

    Artists Own
  • Angel High Wires

    Linn Records
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