Martin Archer


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At its core, Angel High Wires -- Martin Archer's first collaboration with writer Geraldine Monk -- was a song cycle. Its follow-up, Fluvium, drops the idea entirely. The first album featured a cast of singers interpreting Monk's poems. This time around, the poet herself recites, emphasizing the phonetical plays contained in her words, pushing them toward the sound poetry of Sten Hanson. Of the original singers, only Julie Tippetts remains. Her vocal improvisations are laced with Archer's bubbling electronic textures, some quite harsh, and saxophones. Angel High Wires kept a certain degree of separation between voices (the melodies) and electronics (the accompaniment). Fluvium, on the other hand, is a piece fully integrating its elements into a single whole and thus comes much closer to a radio play. The title track is presented in four segued movements, for a total duration of 30 minutes. The epilogue "Aftershock" (13 minutes) pushes integration one step further as Monk's voice is heavily treated while Tippetts soars in an overdubbed vocal extravaganza. This album is surely more challenging and abstract, but it also engages the listener on a deeper, more disturbing level. The real star of it is not Monk's words or Tippetts' voice, but Archer's talent at constructing puzzling yet sleek and surprisingly sexy sound pieces.

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