Carla Diratz & The Archers Of Sorrow
The Scale
Discus 124CD
Available formats: CD/DL


“The sense of drama and melancholy but strength and compassion bleeds through the whole album, and makes it an essential taster of Carla’s worldview. Well recommended.” – Mr Olivetti, FREQ

“While we pray for better times, we can soothe our souls with this glorious Discus release featuring an amazing vocal performance by Carla Diratz with music by Martin Archer and Nick Robinson plus a lineup of great musicians including Charlotte Keefe on trumpet. Carla’s vocal melodies and wonderfully poetic lyrics merge with the highly original music in such a seamless way that it feels as though this band has been playing together for years.” – feedback from a Discus Music customer.


The extraordinary, powerful and characterful French singer Carla Diratz (described by none other than Robert Wyatt as “the soulful Ms Diratz”) collaborates here with composers Martin Archer and Nick Robinson to deliver an extremely diverse set which runs from out and out prog through avant-rock to improv, electronic collage and modernist chanson – “Improg” is the name we’ve given to this mixed up school of music. Lyrics sung in English, French and Italian ultimately present a very personal view of the world, with some nostalgia for the past but ultimately hope in the unconquerable spirit of the next generation. The band is completed by upcoming trumpet star Charlotte Keeffe and the crack rhythm section who first came together onstage as part of Archer’s Anthropology Band.

Carla Diratz – vocal
Martin Archer – saxophones, keyboards, electronics
Nick Robinson – guitars
Dave Sturt – bass guitar
Adam Fairclough – drums
Charlotte Keeffe – trumpet
Jan Todd – backing vocals
Julie Archer – backing vocals

24CD - Neil Carver & Martin Archer
169CD cover 500x500
Carla Diratz & The Archers of Sorrow
Blue Stitches


A video review by Dereck Higgins on YouTube, via this link.

A video review by CATSYNTH TV on YouTube, via this link.

This Carla Diratz album does my head in. I’ve now had the recording several weeks, re-run it over and over on endless car journeys throughout this Covid-Winter; taken it in blocks of sound gone-midnight, the house – fridge cold, speakers shattering silence like all meditation is but memory; heard the French part-translate in the brain then fragment into Esperanto; allowed the song Mother to recall “…seven different tongues beating up like drums inside her lungs”; allowed Charlotte Keefe’s magnificent trumpet break on Merry-go-round to do away with sampling Stravinsky. The Scale is a dark bright thing, even at this late stage it could be my album of the year. Targeted to speak sorrow, Carla Diratz can’t help but somehow come across the senses as a valediction. You either take the weight of The Scale, feel it in the ears, give in to its great glory moments (title track, The nature of a child, Menhir et gemissements, Dove mi hai lasciata, Teen dance, Le chagrin, Desert prayer) or decide you’re not ready to be dismembered. In which case, better pass it on to someone you really love and let them do the deed instead. Scraps of detail: If like me your experience of Adam Fairclough’s drumming has been that of a classy jazzbuff then this recording spins a different drummer’s story. In places the kit is laid into as if decking demons; 4/4 thunder pummelled onto the Diratz vocabulary like a second vocal. And Nick Robinson’s guitars are everywhere; slicing power chords then intricate filigree followed by ‘surf’ guitar – as much Lenny Kaye as anything coming out of fusion, often sonic yet sensuous Left Bank scratching at leftfield. As usual, Mr Archer’s own instruments are blindingly unobvious, the catalyst for continual mood swings into which Charlotte Keefe’s trumpet is both siren and sound installation. Clearly though this is Carla Diratz’s album. Sung in French and English, her voice, authoritative and demanding. A songbook as diverse as this one has to be given a lot of ear-time. It re-pays with unravelling mysteries, like an orchestrated spy novel. Big music does your head in, you have been warned. – Steve Day, December 2021

The releases on DISCUS MUSIC are getting more and more interesting, because for example the CD The Scale of the French singer CARLA DIRATZ and THE ARCHERS OF SORROW is a fascinating original sounding album that combines certain music styles I have not heard before actually. Basically it combines the unique deep soulful voice of Carla with French chanson, Avant-Garde, Progressive Rock and complex Jazz, with lyrics sung in English, French and Italian, so the finished product is an impressive combination that seems to work after several times playing the album. It’s experimental at times (Dove Mi Hai Lasciata), French chanson like (Le Sang Et Les Larmes and Le Chagrin), but also progrocking (The Scale, I Am With You and Desert Prayer) and even ‘sensational’ uptempo early 70s Psychedelic Classic rocking during Teen Dance (which even reminds me a bit of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE). There’s also some complex jazz here and there, but actually there is a lot more to discover, because this long diverse album is an interesting mixture of styles, and along with the unique voice of Carla, the CD has an own identity from start to finish. Definitely a recommended album if you want to hear something really original! – Strutter’zine

Imagine that Captain Beefheart disbanded the Magic Band straight after Trout Mask Replica and then slipped off into the desert. By some freak of nature that I can’t explain, he returns to 2021 having magically transformed into a French woman. In this new guise she captures a band of improvising musicians and imprisons them in a recording studio. They will not be released until total weirdness has been achieved. And they succeed. Fast and bulbous indeed. – feedback from a Discus Music customer.

I’d like to expand the page so that it includes reviews, and what better way to start than with an album by one of our members ? Now this is a double album’s worth (remember them ?) and as such encompasses a wealth of emotions, textures and sounds – and I hope that everyone involved will not be offended by my comparisons and reference points ! The album opens with a sparse drum beat and a bass line reminiscent of Faust, suddenly breaking out with keyboard and horns, topped by the rich, smoky voice of Carla – veering between a soft purr and impassioned growl. The lyrics are elliptical and , in keeping with the times, rather dark (the theme continues throughout the album without becoming ‘depressing’). The second number surprised me, starting with sparse , dissonant piano and a vocal that begins with the smoky texture and suddenly turns into a blues / soul voice that made me think of Amy Winehouse! As the song progresses an unexpected curtain of mellotron-drenched descends (such an underused instrument these days !). Elsewhere, moments of heavily distorted guitar give way to desolate voice textures and a dark as hell melody. LOTS OF SPACE – with Carla intoning her poetry as the machines of the apocalypse draw ever closer …. Further in, plucked strings and medieval recorders create a backdrop to sombre lyrics that at times seem to be on the edge of tears. There are shades of Henry Cow / Dagmar Krause on “La Digue” , with the scattered piano and woodwind flickering around the mix. “The Nature Of A Child” features Carla in almost torch singer mode, the dark clouded lyrics giving way to a slow, doleful swing. “Dove mi hai lasciata” is possibly my favourite track, opening with a systemic keyboard motif a la Terry Riley. The Italian lyrics , keys and bubbling sax actually reminded me of Franco Battiato circa “Sulle Corde di Aries”. Ticking percussion and washes of electronic sound brighten the picture and a little bit of sunshine comes in…….for a while…. lsewhere , Carla’s voice is treated , multi tracked, backed by dense horns, keys and guitar (definitely a hint of Mike Ratledge in the organ sound) , backwards and forwards guitar and disembodied voices flit in and out of the mix. Tempos shift gear and it even gets ‘heavy’ for want of a better word….but here I am waxing lyrical – the only way to experience this music is to HEAR IT! One last point – beautiful sound and mixing, and remarkably, due to distance and COVID, most of the parts were recorded independently of each other, in different parts of the world…… beautiful package too. – Mike Davies, VIRTUAL CELLULOID

It’s a super strutting bad-ass proggy, jazz, power chanteuse must hear. – feedback from a Discus Music customer.

While we pray for better times, we can soothe our souls with this glorious Discus release featuring an amazing vocal performance by Carla Diratz with music by Martin Archer and Nick Robinson plus a lineup of great musicians including Charlotte Keefe on trumpet. Carla’s vocal melodies and wonderfully poetic lyrics merge with the highly original music in such a seamless way that it feels as though this band has been playing together for years. – feedback from a Discus Music customer.

A basic drum pattern (Adam Fairclough) grounds the opening title track into a groove as French chanteuse Carla Diratz, in a deep drawl, like a gruff Annette Peacock, semi-speaks, semi-chants probing poetic lyrics with impactful interjections from guitar (Nick Robinson), sax (Mr Archer, of course!), Dave Sturt’s probing basslines and wonderful Ratledge-like keys. You start to release also that there is a compact brass section with the impressive Charlotte Keeffe adding trumpet to proceedings. The album is worth it for this alone but there is much, much more to come, first of all, in complete contrast, the calm after the storm if you will, the first of three etudes, mostly accompanied only by fragmented pianos and melodies, while Ms Diratz takes on a role which reminds me, in feeling, of the narrated passages of that great French progressive rock group Ange- it is delivered in French you see- and passionately! The chanteuse is it turns out, multi-lingual as one of many highlights ‘Dove mi hai lasciata’ confirms later. This makes marvellous use of brass, keyboards and electronics with a bit of vocal scatting thrown in, ‘I Am With You’ is another triumph, the retro organ sound and Sturt’s inventive bass providing the backdrop for a winning combination of brass and guitar. ‘The Nature of a Child’ is another particular favourite, the sultry soulfulness of Keeffe’s trumpet overture to Robinson’s guitar arpeggios leading to a nostalgic brass treatment, a perfect foil for the singer- the attention to detail and production exemplary. ‘Merry-go-Round’ indulges in the avant-garde for a little while but the music is always rooted in melody which soon emerges, very, very atmospheric with the chanteuse in fine form. ‘Teen Dance’ and ‘Desert Prayer’ are wonderfully Crimson-ish as the music exits powerfully. ‘The Scale’ has become my essential late-night headphone listen, and, in a fanciful way, wish it could be so indefinitely, but I will move on I suppose and look back fondly to one of my musical highlights of 2021. Mr Archer and his Anthropology Band have applied the term ‘Improg’ to the music- it may well catch on! – Phil Jackson, ACID DRAGON

No God, no Adam, no Eve, no original sin.Aus welchem Mund kommt diese schaurige Verneinung? CARLA DIRATZ? Die Tochter einer armenisch-jüdisch-griechisch-italienisch-türkisch gemischten Mutter und eines französischen Fotografen hatte schon an Can und Soft Machine, Sun Ra und Pharoah Sanders geschnuppert, als sie 1978 zu singen anfing – in Strave-Utopia (w/ Serge Bringolf), Alkemia (w/ Alain Berthe & J.C. Buire) und Change als eigenem Projekt, dieseits der Jahrtausendwende mit Colin McKellar (We Free) in Baïkal und Art Ensemble de Belleville, in The OpenJazz Trio wieder mit Buire (Offering, BBI), mit Corentin Coupe als The Electric Suite, mit No White of Moon. Mit Ex-Muffins Dave Newhouse bei “Diratz” (2017) und Manna / Mirage rückt sie immer näher. “Double Dreaming” (2018) zeigt sie mit Mark Stanley, dem Gitarristen dieses New-House-Projekts, mit Pascal Vaucel, einem Gitarristen in Paris, entstand “pRéCis.AiMaNt” (2019), wo sie Robert Wyatts ‘Sea Song’ anstimmt. “Reflection In A Mœbius Ring Mirror” (DISCUS 83CD) von Guy Segers’ Eclectic Maybe Band führte sie dann mit Dirk Wachtelaer, Catherine Smet und Michel Deville und stupendem Zeuhl-Bass-JazzProg zu Discus. Als hätte Martin Archer nur auf ihre Reibeisenstimme gewartet, formierte er THE ARCHERS OF SORROW mit Nick Robinson, dem Gitarristen von Das Rad, der Trompeterin Charlotte Keeffe, Dave Sturt (Jade Warrior, Gong) am Bass, Adam Fairclough an den Drums, ihm selber an Sax, Keys & Electronics. Damit sie zu krassem Improg, flammendem Jazzrock, schillerndem Ichweißnichtwas als Seelenschwester von Nico, Elizabeth S., Annie Anxiety wie eine Wölfin mit kreidiger Zunge The Scale (DISCUS 124CD) singt, 8 Sibyllen-Songs, dazu – pianobetropft – ‘Le sang et les larmes’, ‘La digue’ & ‘Le chagrin’ sowie ‘Menhir et gémissements’ und auf italienisch ‘Dove mi hai lasciata’. Als erstes nennt sie die Menschheit eine unheilbar kranke Bande schamloser Raffer, Mordbrenner und Kettenschmiede. Der Schmerz in den Blut-, Tränen- und Flammenflüssen vergeht erst in der Asche. Doch selbst auf dem Müllberg droben erlischt die Sehnsucht nicht nach blauem Horizont, und diesem Knochenbündel kann man doch nur ein Wiegenlied summen. Denn selbst mit nur Schwarzem Meer vor Augen und einem Vulkan im Rücken kann Diratz es nicht lassen, ihre Worte als Flaschenpost schwimmen und segeln zu lassen. Bei ‘Mother’ sieht sie zu gepresster Trompete ihre Mutter – exiled, declassed, displaced – Tränen nach den Dardanellen vergießen. Sie besingt die Deiche, Leuchtfeuer und Gezeiten in unserem Herzen, zu bluesiger Trompete und Baritongitarre sich selbst als Mutter Erde Kind, als junges Tier not yet defined / a fox, a wolf, a wild cat, / fearless of seasons, / of wars, of treasons, als Verlassene unter zerbrochenen Säulen. No goal, no direction, no path, no soul, no heaven, no hell, aber trotz allem bassdumpfen Trott versessen auf ‘nen weiteren Ritt auf dem Karussell, in rockender Wallung versessen auf Tanzen Tanzen Tanzen. Stöhnen, Lügen und Wunderworte, das Sternengewölbe verschlingt sie. Soll man den Kummer ertränken, bevor man darin ertrinkt? My weary eyes, are they molecules of an improbable oasis?Man dreht sich im Kreis, am Nasenring von Nostalgie und Fata Morganas. Großes Pathos, durch grandiose Musik mit gehörigem Biss und phantastischen Kontrasten von Baritonsax und akustischer Gitarre, schnoddriger Trompete und fräsendem Gitarrenzahn. Vor allem ‘Menhir’ zieht da alle Register, und Diratz performt das mit artaudscher Groteske und Werwolfgrazie, sollen die Bilitis-Elfen nur kichern. Bei ‘Desert prayer’ röhren zuletzt nochmal alle Rohre, wenn schon wasted undweary, dann in Galopp, Keeffe schmettert, Archer pustet Bariton, jubiliert Soprano, Milch und Honig, wir kommen! – BAD ALCHEMY

The songs touch upon a diversity of styles reflecting the range of Diratz’. ‘Le sang et les larmes’is a chanson. ‘I am with you’ is more like a pop song. ’La digue’ is a very silenced piece of voice and just piano. ‘Dove mi hai lasciata’ is a melodic song. ‘Menhir er gémissements’ is an experimental work spaced with noisy elements. ‘Merry-go-round’ round’ starts with a long and highly improvised opening section with an impressive trumpet work Charlotte Keefe before it continues with a slow beat. In each song we have the characteristic throaty and lived voice of Diratz singing powerfully in French, Italian or English. An original voice! – Dolf Mulder, VITAL WEEKLY

She lives in Sicily in the center of a crater where her roaring voice resonates. His voice, lava stone. She lives in Sicily a few stables from Naples. She walks around monstrous volcanoes, Vesuve and Stromboli. Looks like a lone mermaid guiding Odyssey ships to unlikely creeks. The sun is burning. The Mediterranean Sea is dying. And still the lava that cuts and glows at the bottom of the boiler. One day or another, there will be this apocalypse explosion. Carla’s songs describe the world after, petrified. Loving this atmospheric pro-rock hybrid jazz. I find Robert Wyatt’s tutelary shadow but also the aerial echoes of Simon Raymonde, former bassist of Cocteau Twins and creator of the Bella Union label. Sometimes Carla chants her texts in French the Nougaro way. She rubs the French language, she shakes it. Dang this needs to pulse. Otherwise, I am an unconditional fan of The Nature of a Child. Maybe it’s because Carla is talking about her childhood or because of the lynching atmosphere of music. It’s a no filter album that reveals its nuggets as we listen to it again. A beautiful starry screen that captures all the memories. – Carl Sonnenfeld

It is indeed soulful, grown up music for grown up times – Dave Larder

As an experienced music listener (I am rarely surprised as this point, let alone enthralled with new recordings), I think I was initially not expecting to be as delighted as I was with a CD I recently got from Discus Music. If this is any indication of what the label is putting out, I’d buy other recordings without much hesitation. Carla Diratz and The Archers Of Sorrow / The Scale is a great record. It’s great on a number of levels and not only demands repeated listening. It is not the sort of recording that one expects to get pleasures from just once and move on. There are a large amount of intricate and sonically remarkable ideas going on at once in this record. Yet I never felt pressured and overwhelmed. That may be because as dense as the ideas are, they don’t crush the listener into submission. It’s as enjoyable and intense an experience as anyone into this type of music can expect. So exactly what type of music is this ? That’s complicated to say… It’s improvised, it’s structured. It’s risk taking and yet confident. It contains elements, of jazz, electronics, alternative rock, modern 20th & 21st century classical singer songwriter, “ambient” musics…it’s eclectic. Surprisingly, this sounds challenging on paper but translate on record to a lot of fun and enjoyment. What holds it together is not only the sonic quality of the recording which is practically audiophile in its details (pianissimo pages, harmonic structures and many nuances of electronic sounds come across as clear and detailed but surprising arranged and recorded without a hint of chaos !) It’s got a lot of breathing room despite the diversity of sounds. The other major component that makes each piece hold together is Carla Diratz’ vocals. They are intense and emotionally insistent. They are fully able to breath life into lyrics that are equally intense and almost gestural. It’s poetry that can be spoken and sung -which is something that Carla does without a touch of excess. The voice is both strong, and demanding, enthralling and intelligent. It exudes a sense of having lived life fully and does so without any self consciousness . It’s full of taste and complex like a good wine that’s aged. This is by no means an easy feat to accomplish. Yet she does, over and over in each song. The writing is both open to interpretation as are her vocals. The listener is always wondering- can she continue to pull off the commitment to strength and emotion that is called for on each piece. The answer is-yes. The music by Martin Archer on keyboards and wind instruments and by Nick Robinson on guitars, loop and additional electronics is masterfully performed and fits the moods of the vocals (which are sung , whispered and voiced in a multitude of patterns in French, English and Italian) and writing each and every time. Additional vocal treatments, trumpet, drums and bass also appear and never distract from the music. It’s always somehow cohesive. That such a recording was actually put together from six different studio situations and still sounds natural is something almost astonishing. Archer and Robinson obviously know how to not only compose and arrange each piece but produce a consistent whole out of many disparate parts. All in all this is a record to enjoy and delight in. It’s also beautifully packaged and effectively designed and as an extra treat includes the work of painter Iris Terdjiman on the CD booklet with very readable texts inside written by Diratz in English, French and Italian. I recommend this record highly. – Robert Levy, FB post

La cantante francese Carla Diratz (descritta da Robert Wyatt come “the soulful Ms Diratz”) pubblica l’album ‘The Scale’, svelando all’ascoltatore un set che dispiega un’interessante varietà di stili canori, dal brano rock al set improvvisativo, all’elettronica all’improvvisazione “stilosa”, alla canzone moderna con rimandi “faithfulliani”. La Diratz canta le canzoni in inglese, francese e italiano, in un fare che può rimandare a Diamanda Galas, e si fa accompagnare da Martin Archer al sax alle tastiere, e agli effetti, e Nick Robinson alla chitarra, Charlotte Keeffe alla tromba, e la restante parte della Archer Anthropology Band, cioè Dave Sturt al basso, Adam Fairclough alla batteria, Jan Todd e Julie Archer alle voci. Il disco è ben suonato, la band si amalgama bene con la Diratz che regge il gioco e si diletta a cantare con un pizzico di “nostalgia canaglia” senza stancare. Ascoltatela, non vi annoierete. – Marco Paolucci KATHODIK

Sometimes, you just happen to put on a CD and just go WOW! I’ve listened to The Scale by Carla Diratz & the Archers of Sorrow several times this past week. It is surreal, mystical and transportive. It’s raw and cinematic, and takes you on a sonic and poetic journey. I can hear various tracks in movie soundtracks (think David Lynch, Luis Bunuel, Fritz Lang) and even performed with avant garde, improvisational dance. The words and melodies are by French singer-songwriter Carla Diratz (singing in English, French and Italian) and the music and arrangements are by English musicians and producers Martin Archer and Nick Robinson. I’m obviously excited about this one! – Jerome Rubin, feedback from Discus customer.

The good thing about social media to me is the musicians, artists and good people you might not otherwise meet in your life. So Carla Diratz has been that to me, a dear friend but even if not an artist-vocalist-songwriter of a deep sort. She and the Archers of Sorrow have a new one out entitled The Scale (Discus 124CD). It is another gem in a long string of such things. If you appreciate the Rock-Art song world of such folks as Jack Bruce and Robert Wyatt, along with the kind of adventure the Soft Machine was up to in the original years, well all I can say is that Carla and her compadres are yet another example that perhaps has not gotten the recognition she and they deserve. So I will not quote from them (you will hear them with a listen) but an important component of all this is Carla’s poetic lyrics. They unfold complex image-thoughts. Then to the music itself? Carla is a vocalist of absolute originality, just right for the tempered cold-heat of her songs. Then there are the core instrumentalists who form especially the foundation for what goes on. There is Martin Archer who realizes much that is prime on keys, saxophones, clarinets, recorders and software. And then Nick Robinson makes an important presence felt on electric and acoustic guitars, loops and a little keyboard as well. Then we have good showings from a rhythm section of Dave Sturt and Adam Fairclough on bass guitar and drums, respectively. Charlotte Keeffe on trumpet gives us some very nice improvising and then finally there are background vocals by Jan Todd and Julie Archer. The music has a kind of prog art song aspect that is in its own way distinctive and a joyous listen and there are avant jazzy elements too. I think the best indication of the originality of it is that categories are not sufficient to portray what you will hear. I give this my highest recommendation in the way it hits me as a beautifully complex, original matrix of music to savor. – Grego Applegate Edwards,

This album has simmered away in the background since I got it last October waiting for the right moment to fully assault itself on my senses. This is a fairly remarkable project, propelled by an often dense multi-instrumental mix of guitar, saxes and trumpet but dominated by the highly recognisable voice of Carla Diratz. Carla will be familiar to Facelift readers as the chanteuse on the superb ‘Diratz’ album alongside Dave Newhouse and Brett Hart, but also various other pared down releases over the past few years. For added Facelift interest, the bass player throughout is Gong’s Dave Sturt. Where to start: it’s not just my recent live flirtation with Van der Graaf Generator which puts that band at the forefront of comparisons with the Archers of Sorrow, ‘The Scale’ is testing, progressive music refusing to adhere to any known category. Diratz’s voice is abrasive, heartfelt and often chills to the core; Martin Archer adds dual saxophone lines (on the eponymous opener at least) which recall David Jackson at his most melodic and often the guitar is thrashy, distorted and rocks out Hammill style. But these are probably lazy comparisons: for the most part ‘The Scale’ finds a middle ground between structure and improvisation, as does much of Diratz’s work. For me the highlights are the relatively simple song lines and extremely catchy lines of ‘I Am With You’, but also ‘Dove Mi Hai Lasciate’ – (ecclesiastical trip hop anyone?) where the clearly defined backdrop just brings out the voice in more focus. I read somewhere else that Carla Diratz is unusual in that she can fluently switch between English and French in terms not just of delivery but in lyrical composition; add to that a florid smattering of Italian on ‘Dove’ and we find that as with the spine-tingling ‘Random Night’ on the Diratz album, those linguistics particularly suit her vocal palette. The searing guitar motif which lingers long after the main part of ‘Teen Dance’ has finished will also stick in your mind, whilst ‘Desert Prayer’ brings the album to a raucous grooving conclusion. The guitar of Nick Robinson is superb throughout, no better than on the clipped rhythms of ‘I Am With You’ although he also opens up too Holdsworth style as a soloist for the final track. Best of the more unstructured pieces is ‘Mother’, a real pastiche of muted trumpet and guitar acoustics which opens out into an almost minstrellish fanfare, its storybook qualities putting me in mind of Gilli Smyth, whilst ‘The Nature of a Child’ has a slow Tortoise-like burn. Lots else to delve into here, not least the 3 ‘Etudes’, stark piano backdrops for the Diratz voice, and special mention should be given to the exceptional trumpet work of Charlotte Keefe in all its many guises. So much more as yet unexplored, testament to an album of real depth and complexity and an excellent showcase for the longstanding, innovative and somewhat underrecognized Discus label. – Phil Howitt, FACELIFT

For French singer Carla Diratz‘s latest album, she has enlisted two of the Discus family to conjure some surprisingly diverse soundscapes for her smoky, timeworn vocalising. Both Martin Archer and Nick Robinson are hardy veterans, capable of providing the perfect backdrops and these veer from the gentlest of piano laments to forceful, driven, post-prog whirlwinds. In fact, the opening two tracks show the full range of their craft, with the title track opener being a dark and dramatic post-punk-prog highlight; its sinuous, vibrant bass guitar courtesy of Dave Sturt, amongst which Nick injects squirls of spiny guitar. Carla’s voice is a wild thing, part spoken, throaty and soulful, the emotion always welling up. The track length allows all the players to inject some of their personality during the breaks from vocals, with meandering organ adding to the swell of sound. “Le Sang Et Les Larmes” in comparison is a deft improv piano piece, sparse but soothing, allowing Carla’s emotive voice plenty of room to unfurl. You can almost imagine her leaning tearfully against the piano, brandy to hand, watching the hands of the clock revolve. The album continues like this, not allowing the listener any opportunity for second guessing. The propulsive rhythm and staccato guitar of “I Am With You” is really enjoyable and vibrant, Carla’s words shimmying around the rock-solid rhythm, keys and horns folding their way around her like encouraging friends. “Mother” gives Charlotte Keeffe a chance to interact with Carla, her trumpet playful and almost folky, lending a soft feel to the emotional and seemingly personal words. When the piano is introduced, it is incredibly thoughtful. Its subtlety allows Carla to travel at will, but always with a sense of comfort for her soul bearing. Although sometimes couched in an impressionistic manner, the words often burn, that sensation of personal exploration ever present. There is no feeling of forcing these tales, just of them being natural extensions of a complex personality. Across the album, the mix of languages is beguiling, Carla’s command of English good, but the twisting of familiar words is really pleasurable; while the tracks delivered in French, like “Menhir Et Gemissements”, swathed in a veil of extemporised howling, settle naturally on the ears. You could almost describe “The Nature Of A Child” as dark, prog-Americana with the most straightforward rhythm so far, the guitar shimmering, aided by the massed ranks of horns with loads of staggering reverb, and the poetry is lovely: “…a lonely child, an unknown flower…”. There is plenty of organ in the dreamy and distant “Dove Mi Hai Lasciata”, everything adrift in an impressionistic wash save the voice that welcomes the sax as it chases the jazzy guitar. In all, this is a fantastic selection, even stretching towards the playful yet melancholy Christmassy feeling of “Le Chagrin – Etude 3”, the just-awoken stumble of the piano an antidote to the final track’s jazzy Birthday Party workout. The drumming is driving and divine, and the sense of the whole band giving its utmost is all-consuming and a perfect point on which to end. The sense of drama and melancholy but strength and compassion bleeds through the whole album, and makes it an essential taster of Carla’s worldview. Well recommended. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ

Outside looking in, an errand being slowly treads on trespassed land, along with deeply wise spirits, reflecting partly muzzled rebels, so eager to spill the truth, side by side, with throats not yet slashed, expelling demons, and crowds of free improvisations, ambience, stark landscapes, opposite lush stage, murmuring the important vibrations from the framework, worming every ounce of it out… THIS is “The Scale” with Carla Diratz with The Arches of Sorrow, on the ever wonderful Discus Music label. There be something wise coming your way. A defiant work, among so many challenging releases by French vocalists Carla Diratz, this may require big gloves, extended arms, and big broad imagination to pull in, and partake as needed. Far beyond earthly comparisons of Nico, other avant transients only slightly resembling moonbeamers, and farscape explorers from decades quickly past; Diratz has a voice all her own, in the huge atmosphere not yet measured. Knowing for a fact, Carla does nothing without feeling it, taking it deep, and deciding as a supreme actor, that she can make it a personal and fully spiritual experience, each release she is involved in, is a treat, for our ears only. With a marvelous ensemble of musicians to make this master piece occur, we have Carla Diratz – vocal/ Martin Archer – saxophones, keyboards, electronics/ Nick Robinson – guitars/ Dave Sturt – bass guitar/ Adam Fairclough – drums/ Charlotte Keeffe – trumpet/ Jan Todd – backing vocals/ and Julie Archer – backing vocals. A listening experience is not just a sentence, but a set of emotions spurting an alien light show all around your room, spitting back the contrast of neon to dark colors into your head. A combination of sneaky lanterns and hidden blades, to keep your senses alert, and quick to prepare this rare imbibement. Her involvement of Eclectic Maybe Band is enough for newcomers to jump at the chance to find nuances past the known universe. This group of magnificent musicians are some of the finest framers of brilliant music on the planet. Few people such as Martin Archer see the depths of others as he does. The styles of music thrown underneath Carla’s throaty and instantly expressive voice, is nearly invisible, as the most brilliant actors keep themselves void of the presence, as they speak their lines. The holy grail of the entire recording is made up of this very core, the sublime, and the arrangements from the most professional artists, to allow Ms Carla Diratz to move her voice through subterranean layers too deep to mine otherwise. Bubbling up in slow motion, generating skywards stardust, that rains back down on only the lucky, it is most certain that you have never been present to another recording equal to this, or even anything exactly parallel. Expect a different beauty, a freshly dug treasure. and something of an underground burial that came from way up there, where no one else has seen so far. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and on my TOP CHOICES list of 2021. – ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 3 – 01 – 2022

More Martin Archer here, but this is truly a Carla Diratz showcase. And this album just straight up rocks. Archer and Nick Robinson coined a term for this particular thread of music, “improg,” which so perfectly captures the feel of the album, adding too much commentary risks spoiling the vibe. Drummer Adam Fairclough and bassist Dave Sturt kick the album off with a romping stomp, and Diratz floats in with one of the most dazzling, captivating vocal turns on the album. An incredible singer, Diratz is featured on albums by another Discus mainstay, Eclectic Maybe Band. Here, her rhythmic dexterity melds beautifully with Archer and Robinson’s compositions. The amazing trumpet player Charlotte Keeffe rounds out the band, along with Julie Archer and Jan Todd on backing vocals. Diratz leans into vulnerability, and Keeffe amazingly plays with a stunningly emotional deftness. The Scale feels very much like a song cycle for our times, with heady lyrics that explore modernity, motherhood, childhood, loss, glee, and, most often, wonder. Prepare to spend hours with this one, to uncover layers, yes, but more importantly to escape into its soundworld. – Lee Rice Epstein, The Free Jazz Collective –

Since early days on the social medium FB monster, I have had a talented musical penpal/contact Martin Archer Among his myraid interesting, sometimes far out projects, he has recently posted (probably not for the first time) a 2020 album that he instigated with astounding French chanteuse Carla Diratz, entitled ‘The Scale 124CD’. As we well know, Facebook is all music, movies, monsters and bats in blankets for me, but after clicking onto this album’s link all other diversions were put on hold – I was entranced… and sort of devastated at the same time. This collection, officially released under the banner of : Carla Diratz & the Archers of Sorrow, is nothing short of a banquet of rich ocean-deep textures, bare-boned tonalities, and multi-lingual messages (our singer delivers in Anglais, Francais and Italiano !!). I’m guessing these extraordinary tracks were founded on improvisations, with artful arranging and editing, to build rising and falling orchestra-like landscapes and grooves. All arrows point to a cast of inventive players, with sax & electronics by Martin Archer, and Nick Robinson on guitars (the musical composers) and special moments belong to the trumpet excursions of Charlotte Keeffe – the brass on this record sometimes having an “Urban Sax, walls of jericho” ferocity. In the end it’s the unique emotional declarations of Ms Diratz that provide a kind of icing on an already swooning cake. She knows exactly how to immerse herself within – and also how to soar above both the gorgeous din, and the rippling kosmische strands. The “for what it’s worth section”: to my ears this album, as a statement, is reminiscent of a few records or artists: Pharoah Overlord / Walter Wegmuller’s ‘Tarot’ LP / Mark E Smith / Lotte Lenya (un peu) / Art Ensemble of Chicago / Walter Wegmuller’s ‘Tarot’ LP / Brigitte Fontaine particularly early-mid 70’s and maintenent aussi. / Urban Sax / Anne Waldman’s Sciamachy LP – Mark Bandola, PHANTOM FREQUENCY

Carla Diratz lebt derzeit in Paris und ist wohl auch Französin. Ansonsten ist nicht allzuviel über sie herauszufinden. Offenbar ist sie schon seit Längerem als Sängerin aktiv, in eher avantgardistischen Bereichen zwischen Jazz, Rock und Minimal Music, so hört man. Auf Tonträger ist ihre Stimme aber erst seit der zweiten Hälfte der zweiten Jahrzehnts des neuen Jahrtausends nachweisbar, scheint’s. Anfang des zweiten Jahrzehnts des nämlichen Jahrtausends startete sie ein Projekt mit Martin Archer und Nick Robinson (von u.a. Das Rad), die sie wohl aufgrund ihrer Beteiligung an einigen Stücken der Eclectic Maybe Band kennen gelernt hat. Das erste Ergebnis der Zusammenarbeit erschien mit dem hier rezensierten “The Scale” im Dezember 2021 bei Discus Music. Die rauchig-kantige Stimme der Diratz steht im Zentrum der Musik, wie eine weibliche Version von Don Van Vliet alias Captain Beefheart. In English, Französisch und Italienisch ist sie zu Gange, eher rezitierend Sprechsingend, aber sehr kraftvoll und ausdrucksstark, ohne aber zu exaltiert oder gar kreischend zu Deklamieren. Dazu erklingt progressive Musik, voluminös-elektronisch meist, angejazzt, freier klangmalend, kernig rockend, retro-canterburyartig … eigentlich so, wie man sie aus dem Hause Archer kennt, bestimmt von Tastensounds, E-Gitarrenklängen, allerlei Gebläse und der Rhythmusfraktion. Mal elegisch schwebend, mal getragen rockend, mal jazzig wogend, mal hektisch wuselnd gleiten die Klänge voran, manchmal auch nur bestehend aus Stimme und fragiler Begleitung, oft von einem Piano. Bisweilen gibt es auch retroprogressive Einsprengsel, hallende Mellotronschübe und soft-machine-artig-repetitive Orgeleinlagen oder perlende E-Pianoläuffe. Anderes knarzt sperrig, verzerrt und angeschrägt, wie allgemein das Organ Carla Diratz’. Irgendwo zwischen Retroprog, Neopsychedelik, Soundscape, Jazzrock und Freiformatig-Avantgardistischem bewegt sich die Musik, die alles in allem sehr abwechslungsreich und vielschichtig gestaltet ist. “The Scale” klingt ein wenig wie ein Robert-Wyatt-Album, allerdings mit ganz anderem, wenn auch geistesverwandtem charakteristischem Damengesang. Wer letzteren schätzt und sich solchen in einem retro-canterbury-avantgardistisch-elektronisch-rockig-bizarren Soundgewand vorstellen kann, die/der sollte hier einmal reinhören. Progressivität, Klangmalerei und Expressivität verschmelzen hier zu einem ganz besonderen homogenen Ganzen. Toll! – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN

The lineup, in addition to Martin Archer on horns, keyboards and electronics, and Diratz on vocals, features Nick Robinson on guitars, keyboards and loops (already alongside Archer in the past), Dave Sturt on bass (since 2009 in Gong and often on tour with Steve Hillage), on trumpet Charlotte Keeffe (a frequenter of the London free improvisation area, with London Improvisers Orchestra, Paul Dunmall and Alex Ward), and on drums Adam Fairclough. The album is a little jewel that partly recalls the Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere. The eponymous song is as if it were the manifesto of the entire work, a hypnotic carpet with trails of distorted guitars, short wind riffs reminiscent of Soft Machine, and the abrasive voice, with a distant chanteuse flavour, which pierces the song. Same coordinates in I Am With You, with a tighter rhythm, more Softs echoes and Diratz outlining imaginative vocal lines, intertwined in the finale with a dark baritone sax. But the more meditative pieces are also notable, sort of improvised areas, such as Le Sang Et Les Larmes – Etude 1, where the hoarse and at the same time blunt voice improvises supported by a delicate piano, full of spaces and silences. Also worth mentioning is Merry-Go Round, with a trumpet characterizing a free beginning and then turning into a dark, restless atmosphere, distorted bass and the winds marking the regular progression over which the voice is free to declaim. Also particular is Dove Mi Hai Left, a prog with references to Hammill and Van Der Graaf Generator, sung in a troubled and melancholy Italian. – Alberto Popolla

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