Martin Archer & Simon H. Fell
Pure Water Construction
Discus 11CD
(1999)
Available formats: CD/DL

 

Reinvigorating the stagnant world of electroacoustics with non-academic strategies…..sensitive chamber-like expressivity – Chris Blackford, Rubberneck.

This CD is a rich, remarkable statement. – Bill Tilland, Motion.

Martin Archer – electronics, woodwind / Simon H. Fell – electronics, double bass

with

Robin Hayward – tuba / Chris Burn – piano / Rhodri Davies – harp / Jenni Molloy – cello / Stefan Jaworzyn – guitar / Gino Robair – percussion / Charlie Collins – flute

Pure Water Construction is a six part electroacoustic composition generated in the studio jointly by Archer and Fell. The five main sections are based on solo improvisations which have been computer manipulated, electronically stimulated, and orchestrated with additional improvisations, samples and written parts. The Prelude introduces each improvisor in turn over an electronically treated percussion ensemble. Part One multitracks air escaping from the tuba at different speeds, orchestrated with pinpoint drum machine sounds. Part two features only piano sounds, filtered and ring modulated in hommage to Stockhausen’s early work. Part three pits the natural harp sound against overdriven organ, and introduces a melody for double bass, bass guitar and bass clarinet. Part four is a string trio of violin, cello and double bass, all subjected to some of Archer’s most extreme electronics to date. Part five is a marathon guitar workout over bass and electronic percussion, closing with a section which reprises the previous parts. Features the players named above plus Archer, Fell, Charlie Collins (woodwind) and Gino Robair (percussion). Recorded and released with financial assistance from the Arts Council of England.

Reviews

“A fine progression in Martin’s electro-acoustic exploits. Rather than being just improv, he’s always had a constructive approach to the work. None more so than on this release where Simon Fell brings his ability to find fluidity in the face of impending chaos, making the album a completed puzzle box. Attempt to take it apart and it’ll fall to bits… There’s a slew of people making albums with computers and found sounds, but the results are too often piece-meal in vision and effect, but with every album Martin expands his sonic vocabulary and editing skills. In Simon Fell he’s found an ideal collaborator. If you’ve heard any of Simon’s terrific free-jazz workouts, you’ll know his recordings and live work have always complimented and enhanced the playing of others. This time he’s brought out the best in Archer.” – Progress Report

“Adds several dimensions to a world of ideas already pushing the boundaries of modern composition……evoking a wild mixture of emotions…..cathartic and expressive…..Once again Martin Archer and his collaborators have successfully created bridges between worlds previously barely imagined and they illustrate just how clearly modern recording techniques can further harness such vision. The line between madness and genius may well be thin, but Martin Archer certainly knows how to parade a carnival along it.” – Fourth Dimension.

“Reinvigorating the stagnant world of electroacoustics with non-academic strategies…..sensitive chamber-like expressivity” – Chris Blackford, Rubberneck.

“An exciting and skilful combination of improvised music and electroacoustic technique…..Fell and Archer display mastery of equipment, processes, sound quality and musicianship…..Full marks for ingenuity, innovation and inspiration…..Every track is a modernist gem of mournful, elegiac, deeply moving instrumental music.” – Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector.

“A fascinating piece…..One soon grows to love the grungy sounds, violent rhythms and ad hoc but always interesting form” – Christopher Bailey, Diffusion.

“If you can simply allow yourself to dig the intricate and sometimes outrageous juxtaposition of textures, patterns and timbres, it becomes a brilliant piece of work…..Light years better than 99% of the sterile contemporary academic stuff that passes for cutting edge electroacoustics today…..The things Archer can do with the sound of a piano are quite amazing, and in themselves offer ample testimony of his studio genius…..Aural treats abound…..The sort of recording that’s going to offer surprise and delight every time out…..This CD is a rich, remarkable statement.” – Bill Tilland, Motion.

“Pure Water Construction is similar but completely different (that paradox again). The premise has shifted, and this makes for a new focus in the music. This time, it seems, Archer has allowed a single solo improvisation to substantially structure each of the five main sections (there is an introduction which seems to be more of a studio cut-up). These improvisations were then taken away and given the studio treatment (by both Archer and Fell), following their logic but developing it with edits from other improvisations and electronic manipulations and re-orchestrations. It starts — after a wonderfully hectic “Part 0” which sounds like, but of course isn’t, a group improvisation — with tubist Robin Hayward. His steam-train textures, overlaid with bells, motors which sound like running water and odd tapping sounds manages to hold the imagination for a good seven minutes before he moves into more conventional, note-based territory.  Contributions from Chris Burn, Rhodri Davies, Jenni Molloy and Stefan Jaworzyn follow; each piece sounds incontrovertibly like its originator, and as one listens one really begins to get a sense of what Archer and Fell have achieved here. Keeping the integrity of each performance, they have transformed it into an impossibly sophisticated composition; a result which would be nigh-on impossible, anyway, using either composition or improvisation alone. Fell even crowbars in one of his trademark serialist jazz heads (“Part 3″), but on the whole the feel is similar to that of Ghost Lily Cascade, brooding, sombre and restless below the surface, with less in common with jazz than with electroacoustic composition. As a result of its methodology, however, the music on this disk is much closer to the familiar models of free improvisation than its predecessor. That, though, might just make it even more subversive in the face of all those improv purists who look on the studio somewhat as members of the Temperance Association used to regard the local pub. Without wanting to make too much of the Freudian angle, the metaphor of a body of standing water comes up too often to be ignored. Of course, it has many connotations — its secrecy (how deep is it?), its hidden threat (drowning, lurking Loch Ness monsters), its blankly reflecting surface on which one can only project one’s own image, transformed by its own movement. Whatever your preference, these are two beautiful, well-played, conceptually rich disks which come highly recommended.” – Richard Cochrane, Musings

“With this work Archer has documented his unique take on Euro Improv. The result actually sounds more live than some concert performances” – Jazz Weekly

“Concerns itself with liberating all manner of sound sources from their original context. Overall, the pieces evoke the feeling that lines most others would turn away from are being crossed, without once losing site of the juxtaposed odds. Which is a good thing and should be actively encouraged as much as possible” – Adverse Effect.

“We would also recommend to adventurous ears this excellent electroacoustic suite” – Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD

“Pure Water Construction fait partie de ces enregistrements dans lesquels l’auditeur n’entre pas toujours facilement. La musique propose un jeu de constructions électroacoustiques qui ont tendance à dérouter. Pourtant, de-ci de-là se dessinent des phrases savoureuses, les improvisations se font envolées, d’une énergie contagieuse et pleines d’une beauté qui n’affleurait pas auparavant avec autant d’évidence. Pour goûter Pure Water Construction, pour apprécier sa déclinaison des sonorités, il faut laisser voguer librement son imagination ; c’est alors que se découvrent le verbe, la phrase et l’émotion musicales.” – JazzoSphere

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