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Archer, Martin

Another Fantastic Individual

Archer, Martin : Another Fantastic Individual (Discus)

Reflecting on the Horweb Sax Quartet he was a member of during the 80s, UK improvising saxophonist Martin Archer uses AACM influences (and covers one Roscoe Mitchell piece) as he plays all parts of a series of "solo" saxophone recordings, layering his playing alone and in harmony, in call and response, and in insanely creative ways that never cease to engage his listeners.

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product information:

UPC: 5051078967127

Label: Discus
Catalog ID: 80CD
Squidco Product Code: 27413

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Recorded at Discus Music Studio, between January 2018 and February 2019.


Martin Archer-baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone, saxello bass clarinet, flute, recorder, melodica acoustic and sampled percussion software instruments, electronics, keyboards f

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Artist Biographies:

"Martin Archer was born in Sheffield, England, in 1957. He started playing saxophone at age 15 and first got active on the Sheffield improvisational scene in 1973. In the early '80s, he recorded an LP with Bass Tone Trap, his first group. In 1983 he formed the saxophone quartet Hornweb, which, in ten years of existence, released three albums. It is during that time that Archer released his first solo album, Wild Pathway Favourites (1988) and founded the Discus label on which he since releases all his music.

In 1993, he disbanded Hornweb and turned to synthesizers and sequencers while shifting his activities from stage to studio. He developed a compositional approach in which he records improvisers soloing, then manipulates this raw material, combining it with electronics and structuring it into a whole new piece. This technique is illustrated on Wild Pathway Favourites, Ghost Lily Cascade (1996), and Pure Water Construction (with bassist Simon H. Fell, released in 1999). Later works such as Winter Pilgrim Arriving (2000) moved toward more constructed and less abstract pieces, even making room for melodies and rhythm tracks at times.

Apart from his solo work, Archer is also involved in Ask, a duo with guitarist John Jasnoch, and Transient v Resident, an ambient electronics project with Chris Bywater."-All Music, François Couture

"Martin Archer is a composer / improviser who is equally at home on stage or in the studio. His own distinctive saxophone playing is rooted in AACM jazz. Through his use of keyboards and electronics, and as a studio producer, he extends this interest into extended song form and leftfield rock music. He is also co-director of the uncategorisably avant choir Juxtavoices.

His principle music work is the Discus Music label, the imprint for his various releases, notably by the groups described below.

His current jazz based projects include Engine Room Favourites (current a 4 drummer, 14 piece big band), Story Tellers (6 piece group including shaman instruments alongside the conventional instruments), plus various ad hoc smaller groups. All of these are strongly aligned with AACM tradition and teaching.

Archer has a long running duo with veteran vocalist Julie Tippetts. Each of their highly acclaimed CD releases deliberately explores song from a different perspective - the duo aims to be truly progressive, and takes in elements from jazz, rock, soul and pure abstraction.

Archer's main live performance vehicle is the trio Inclusion Principle with Herve Perez and Peter Fairclough. The group operates in a space between electronics, nu-jazz, contemporary electroacoustic music and free improvisation. In performance you will hear pure jazz skill, electronic beats and areas of texture and abstraction all seamlessly woven into a fascinating and constantly shifting tapestry of sound.

The sprawling Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere was formed by Archer as an improvising rock group with shades of Terry Riley, Magma, Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, very much in the progressive / krautrock tradition, and noted for its large scale string, horn and vocal arrangements.

Also in rock music, Archer is a member of the USA based heavier than plutonium prog / sludge / zeuhl group Combat Astronomy under the direction of Jamie Huggett.

Surprising, delighting and occasionally alarming audiences for a number of years now, Juxtavoices is a 30 piece choir for mainly untrained voices co directed by Archer with Alan Halsey which has racked up dozens of performances and issued three CDs.

This eclectic combination of sources and highly individual applications makes Archer a unique inhabitant of the school of English maverick composer / improvisers. "-Discus

-All Music, Discus Records (

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track listing:

1. Pressure Shocks 6:18

2. Another Fantastic Individual 5:29

3. Song For Zara Grace 5:52

4. Behind The Sun 4:49

5. Song For Corey Mwamba 1:43

6. Rose Bombe / Oreogasm 10:31

7. Close Together 5:19

8. Owl Joins In With The Morning Birds 5:09

9. Jo Jar (composed by Roscoe Mitchell) 5:09

10. Battle Lines 6:28

11. Point To Point 3:10

12. Dig Yourself 7:03

13. Baribop 1:50
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

Between 1983 and 1993 my sole performing band was Hornweb Sax Quartet. During those ten years we made three albums and performed dozens of concerts. One of my favourite reviews from the time, by Ben Watson, described Hornweb as "a mixture of searing abstraction and roots". That succinct description would, I hope, apply to my music generally - although in my own case those roots are tangled, and reach down into many sources of nutrition. I've always regretted that all our recordings came from the first half of the band's life, and that later versions were never captured - it was much more difficult to make and release records back then, and perhaps the line-up changes were just too disruptive for the band ever to quite settle down in its later years.

Certainly at the time I remember wondering what the band might sound like if I were able to play all the parts myself..... Well, a quarter of a century later I've found that answer to that question. Hornweb itself came back to life in 2018 as a loosely organised and very occasional improvising group of anything up to twelve saxophonists. This recording is quite different and is one which I hope is true to the firmly AACM based concept of the original band."-Martin Archer

"[...] Apart from his work with Hornweb, Archer goes relatively unrecognised in his native country. The Discus imprint is the locus for much of his work, a one-man operation that is also open to other voices (notably collaborator Julie Tippetts and Mick Beck's trio) but used mainly for Archer's own experiments. The test question here was whether the kind of stuff that Hornweb used to do as a sax quartet, could be pulled off by a single executant. I'd say the proof is pretty evident.

There are completely unaccompanied, single-horn things like "Song For Zara Grace", but elsewhere Archer uses studio techniques to create a particularly playful and layered sound which will defeat most blindfolded listeners. The only non-original piece is Roscoe Mitchell's "Jo Jar", an intriguing choice lifted from the 1981 Sound Ensemble LP 3 X 4 Eye on Black Saint and one that I know has turned up in Roscoe's touring sets since then. It suggests a particular approach to composition, looser than is usually associated with Mitchell's non-Art Ensemble work and definitely from the funkier and more street-oriented side of things.

There are moments throughout the set when a brief snippet might lead you to think you were hearing something from John Surman's Westering Home, and that's probably as good a point of comparison as you'll find. A really intriguing record from an individual who's made some fantastic but scarcely noticed records in recent years and who is far from A. N. Other in anyone's list of significant contemporaries."-Brian Morton, Jazz Journal

Get additional information at Jazz Journal
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Solo Artist Recordings

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