Thursday 7 November 2013


It's not often you hear something like this. In fact, I'm not sure if I've heard this kind of sound exactly as it appears here before. It's certainly a very interesting listen. What is "it"? What is "this"? It is the debut self-titled EP from South London duo Archivist - known separately as Ed Begley (vocals, lyrics, piano, guitar, programming, synths, percussion) and Rory Simmons (guitar, programming, synths, trumpet). The multi-instrumentalism and programming know-how certainly make for a dynamic combination; this is a very accomplished piece of work. In just five songs, you - the eternal listener - are taken on a wild ride through variegated realms of rhythm and sound, all with an overarching theme of poignant and pretty dreaminess.

The introduction to Archivist's world comes in the form of 'Wonder Through'. Against sounds that summon the hustle-and-bustle of everyday city life, with the jittering tick of hi-hats and loops of blustery electric piano chords, a sense of calm - of wonder even - effuses from the standing-still-in-the-midst-of-madness vocals that sing of "streets paved with gold"; sweeps of guitar and glittery synth crash around as Ed Begley's powerful falsetto belts lungfuls of emotion. Indeed, that voice is something that makes this EP what it is. Undeniably and gloriously English, it's also an extremely well-polished voice that is certainly put through its paces throughout the EP.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the riff-heavy pumping rock of second track 'Whatever You Are' - cymbal-laden drums smash out the beat as the looping guitar riff accompanies Begley's mean drawl in the verse, clinking percussion dotting the spaces between the cold sounds. It's in the final third of the song where the vocals scream loud, holding long lung-bursting notes in rock-god fashion - not an actual human sound I've heard nor been more impressed with since I heard The Mars Volta's 'L'Via L'Viaquez' - just sayin'. It's good!

'We Can't Be Friends' features a weirdly unnerving sense of funk against near-menacing spears of thick synth, all to a hip hop beat underpinned with meaty double-bass. This one feels very English indeed - there's a touch of Kasabian (maybe even Gorillaz) in here, yet rinsed in a waterfall of decorative sounds. Closing track 'Chancer' has a similar feel to it. Beginning with industrial synth heaped with delay we're soon plunged into an electronic wonderland of progressive sound set to a constant minimal beat where Begley's voice reigns over it, richly layered in some parts but always reverbing mistily into the meld of noises. With a slightly different sound, 'Swim' is an ambient illumination of rippling liquid waves, busy with chords and percussion, and haunted by lamenting falsetto vocals. At about 2:42 the beat suddenly breaks into a rapid uptempo samba-style affair, percussion shaking like lines of dancers in the background, and a delayed, distorted trumpet begins a futuristic jazz solo as ascending guitar notes provide a delicately fluid ornamentation - a very fun change in dynamic.

If you're looking for something exciting and different, this is what you should be listening to. Though only their debut EP, it already sounds like Archivist have years of experience under their belts. Counting amongst their influences Radiohead and Aphex Twin, their sound is telling of a love of particularly British musical acts; this release not only celebrates this kind of intelligent and meticulous half-electronic-half-live affair, but steps into its midst as a co-conspirator and takes the scene even further forward.

The EP is out now as a free download on SoundCloud and a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.

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  1. Holy mother of Dot Cotton, this is absolutely excellent! Eargasm

    1. :) 'Whatever You Are' is a particularly satisfying listen.