Carla Diratz & The Archers of Sorrow
Blue Stitches
Discus 169CD
(2024)
Available formats: CD/DL

 

“Carla sings from a deep well of experience. There is such gravity in her voice. Captivating. The blues is expressed and also deconstructed here. Take the journey.” – Dereck Higgins

“If you want safe go elsewhere. This is dark, dingy and oh so atmospheric and it’ll leave you wanting more. To quote aptly from one of her songs, ‘Kill the fear’ she says. Quite.” – Paula Mcadam, Audion

“The album eases along from strength to strength, taking in elements of jazz, blues, rock, folk, a veritable showcase of different styles all connected by Diratz’ voice. There really isn’t a bad song on here anywhere, and it’s one of those “the more you listen to it, the better it gets” albums. “- Peter Thelen, EXPOSÉ

 

Carla Diratz – voice, keyboard
Martin Archer – saxophones, clarinets, keyboards, electronics
Nick Robinson – guitars
Adam Fairhall – organ, electric piano
Dave Sturt – bass guitar
Adam Fairclough – drums
Charlotte Keeffe – trumpet

Sometime in 2022 Carla commented that were she to make another album, the state of the world dictated that it would have to be a blues album. Immediately we had our brief for a new record. Each of us had out own take on this idea. Carla sent in four jazz infected pieces for voice and keys which were recorded on her phone. Nick came up with a sequence of progressive blues rock pieces for the band. And Martin came up with a few little odds and ends with his own leftfield take on the format.

All of these were realised magnificently in the studio by our wonderful band, this time round bringing in a new recruit, the great improvising musician Adam Fairhall on organ.

We hope you will enjoy our modern contribution to the progressive blues rock tradition.

On first hearing this album our friend Carl Sonnenfeld wrote:
“Carla and her heavy voice crushed rock a whisper that blows the hot the cold a whisper that sinks snake engulfs with the alligator in a swamp of New Orleans Carla and her voice flows this Mississippi river that we go up against current back to reblues as an initiative quest towards Chicago Carla and her river voice that carries all the pain and grace Carla and her voice dries like sand that hangs on to the erratic harmonica of a mad angel Carla and her old dodge vehicle voice that tracks its way on the desert red dirt From Mojave to see Captain Beefheart and Neil Young. Carla and her voodoo voice to conjure fate and communicate with old bluesmen prayers to severe echoes of bass sax in osmosis with ambient chaos Carla gives her voice to the Blues a revisited and destroyed blues a Blues that resembles Carla”

24CD - Neil Carver & Martin Archer
124CD
Carla Diratz & The Archers Of Sorrow
The Scale

Reviews

Carla sings from a deep well of experience. There is such gravity in her voice. Captivating. The blues is expressed and also deconstructed here. Take the journey. – Dereck Higgins

It has been a couple of years since Carla Diratz‘s The Scale was released and you could be forgiven if the line-up for that album viewed it as a one-off; a unique meeting of post jazz rock minds. But when Carla contacted Martin Archer to suggest a more blues inflected album, suggestive of the current world malaise, both he and Nick Robinson jumped at the chance to gather familiar players and provide another varied set of diverse backings for the weary wonder of Carla’s voice. Split almost equally between Nick’s more blues rock-based full band workouts, Martin’s more experimental and suggestive collaborations and Carla’s bare-bones piano-based torch songs, the album is quite the journey, with Carla’s well-worn, carefully enunciated vocals the only link. In fact, the voice just seems to improve with age and she is able to lay out patterns that meander in and out of the various musical backings. The two opening tracks perhaps set the scene best as Nick and Carla’s “Drops Of Remembrances” give full vent to his progressive rocky blues demeanour. The strength of the rhythmic drive, allied to the gentleness of Adam Fairhall‘s organ, give differing backdrops in one song; while Martin and Carla’s “Consumed” is built from sine wave drones and harmonica. This ghostly feel adds to the haunted vibe of a heady, sweaty concoction that could almost come from Bad Seeds territory. Dave Sturt‘s playful bass is an important element of the more stripped-down pieces and on “I’ll Be Gone”, Carla’s chews on the kiss-off tale, her vibrato and sparse piano merging with the clatter of Charlotte Keeffe‘s ’30s jazz trumpet. The album moves carelessly from one style to another, causing the listener to be constantly alert; the slow, gloopy sax of “Recalling The Fear” feels lighter than the rockier, guitar based “A Peak At Night”. Carla’s piano playing is sometimes a stark frame around the doomed vocalising, depicting thankless situations, and Charlotte’s trumpet is often the thing to prevent it from slipping into despair; but Martin’s use of harmonica on some of the tracks gives a little more light, even if it is dusty from the road. The New Orleans wooze of “The Inner Island”, replete with foot-stomp percussion and Robert Johnson guitar puts us right down in the US South, but it shares space with the scat-sung freakout and hard-pushing rhythm of “Free Delivery” and the voice and organ ramble of “Puzzled”. Everywhere you step though, Carla’s voice lingers and even on the country blues cover “I’m A Drifter”, she makes the song her own, twisting it around her finger like so much golden thread. Towards the end, “Places I’ve Been” really brings the funk, shape shifting as the players jump in, stretching and contorting, playing against one another. Nick’s guitar chops it about like he’s swinging a cleaver and the album ends with the classic supper-club jazz of “You’re Nowhere”. You can’t help wondering whether Carla ever has good romantic fortune or whether she is just fantastic at adopting that mindset as there is always strength in the message; but to be honest, whatever the source, on the strength of this latest album, we should just be thankful that she is still brimming with desire to tell the tales. The Discus family has done another great job of providing backing for her and Blue Stitches is really something to lose yourself in. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ https://freq.org.uk/reviews/carla-diratz-blue-stitches/

In 2022 I wrote about Carla Diratz’s previous album: “The Scale is a dark bright thing, even at this late stage it could be my album of the year.” At the risk of repeating myself (which I dislike doing) Blue Stitches could inhabit a similar updated sentence. In the promo notes sent to reviewers, Carl Sonnenfeld cites Captain Beefheart’s influence. I wish he hadn’t come up with that cliché ‘cause I know what’s going to happen… all that superficial nostalgia for Trout Mask Replica gets scagged into the this Carla Diratz session needlessly. Blue Stitches is a different thing. The fact is Nick Robinson’s guitar runs its own signals, Adam Fairhall’s keyboards conjure a spaceship travelling a universe unknown to the old Magic Band. The Beefheart idea of production was to gather his cohorts together in a specific location… and stay there. He ‘taught’ the tunes like being on bootcamp. Fifty years later Blue Stiches was sewn globally, digitally. Vocals sent on a phone. At least three different locations used to hem the finished garment. Archer dubbing and playing horn charts Van Vliet’s soprano sax would have mashed. Here, Charlotte Keeffe’s trumpet is as articulate as the songs she supports. In other words I’d urge your ears to unpick these sound stitches on their own terms. (I have a complete set of the Good Captain. He’s special, but let’s not confuse the decades or the darkness.) Carla Diratz has a voice like cooked almonds and a vocabulary as rich as a lexicon. Try this from the first track …only a few drops of that Holy-water had me believe in the oracle, had me work a miracle and transcend the cliff of my unspoken words of love (Drops of Remembrances). Thirteen tracks later, the closing cut…..my friends they say don’t you see? He is right there! I want a rendezvous avec vous I’m in despair you’re nowhere! (You’re Nowhere) A simple stitch made pin-prick sharp; and it’s sung into a phone and sent to Sheffield recognising the bullseye. This album was recorded in 2023 – a terrible year in Europe, America, Israel/Gaza, Ukraine, Yemen (the list goes on…) and the coming twelve months still has the dogs of war hunting in packs. This is not 1969, it’s a different borderline. Carla Diratz & The Archers Of Sorrow, Blue Stitches – the title forces me to break open the postage, my ears instruct me to hear. Well done Diratz, and all who sail with her. – Steve Day, February 2024.

Listened to this fine album by Carla Diratz on the road today. Raw emotion and powerful performances. A winning combination! – Jack Porcello WAYO FM

A Stylistic shift from previous albums released on the quirky Sheffield Discus label but instantly recognisable with that Carla Diratz rasp. It’s less jazz more blues, showing her versatility. But it’s the voice that evokes the strongest of feeling. It knows how to sticks its claws in and have you in its grasp. You don’t hear this type of voice often. One that grabs you by the throat and makes you stand bolt upright and pay attention. But it’s not just the sandpaper baritone voice, but Carla’s uncanny ability to create just the right mood, with an album wielding a sort of Tom Waits style dark cabaret vibe. A cocktail of heady exoticism. A kind of artistry that’s full of mystique. Raw, visceral but not your conventional blues album. Lyrically there may be bourbon and stinky cigars, and even a nod to Hendrix in some phrasing, but with an atmosphere more ‘smoky French bistrot’ than ‘Night Hawks at the Diner’. A French voice sung in English, that sounds like she gargles with ‘la fee verte’ (the green fairy) more potent than the best barrel aged bourbon. Carla pays little attention to what the mainstream ear thinks someone should sound like either. Her left of centre vocals will stop you in your tracks, immerse you, a sort of nourishingly moody sort of vibe. She could shatter glass with that voice. Her band, The Archers of Sorrow, know exactly how to work with it too. 13 tracks ( unlucky for nobody) sound like theatre pieces with sonic passages that make Carla’s vocal delivery shine. Instrumentation from both brass, rhythm section, electronics and piano, that knows when to be bold or subtle to showcase ‘that voice’. There’s a song called Free Delivery which has a strong bluesy vibe and the Archers of Sorrow judge it perfectly and let rip at the end in an impressive, cacophonous free finale. They certainly know how to mess with the blues, just don’t mess with Ms Diratz. A compelling and sophisticated lady, a Tom Waits like story teller, a get together with Charles Bukowski, but definitely in Paris’s more murky side of town. Squeaky clean is not her forte. If you want safe go elsewhere. This is dark, dingy and oh so atmospheric and it’ll leave you wanting more. To quote aptly from one of her songs, ‘Kill the fear’ she says. Quite. – Paula Mcadam, FB commentary.

There are numerous idiosyncratic singers in the world of popular music, jazz, blues, and so on — singers who you identify the instant you hear them; Roger Chapman, Peter Gabriel, Robert Wyatt, David Surkamp… and on the female side you have Dagmar Krause, Sonja Kristina, Renate Knaup, Urszula Dudziak, and both lists go on the more I think about it, but that second group should certainly include French singer Carla Diratz, for there is absolutely nobody else who sounds quite like her. To date she has mostly appeared on recordings by others (Dave Newhouse, Manna/Mirage, Nick Prol, Eclectic Maybe Band, and others), but she has released several of her own as well, the first that came to my attention was 2017’s Diratz; in 2021 she released the debut album with her group The Archers of Sorrow titled The Scale; now three years later comes the follow-up, Blue Stitches, an amazing album that seems to have a little bit of everything: jazz, blues, folk, rock, pop, and more, all imbued with Diratz’ interesting lyrics and unique vocals. So who are the players in the Archers of Sorrows? If you guessed Martin Archer you would be off to a good start — he plays saxes, clarinet, organ, electric piano, harmonica and more, track depending. Guitarist Nick Robinson, bassist Dave Sturt, drummer Adam Fairclough, organist Adam Fairhall, and trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe appear on most of the album’s thirteen cuts. The compositions involve Robinson, Diratz, and Archer with Diratz responsible for all the lyrics with the exception of the gentle “I’m a Drifter” written by Travis Edmonson. Beginning with the rocker “Drops of Remembrances,” the album eases along from strength to strength, taking in elements of jazz, blues, rock, folk, a veritable showcase of different styles all connected by Diratz’ voice. Other standouts include the bluesy “Recalling the Fear,” the exotic “Free Delivery,” the tasty jazz bit “Journey Within,” and the extended jazz romp “Places I’ve Been.” There really isn’t a bad song on here anywhere, and it’s one of those “the more you listen to it, the better it gets” albums. – Peter Thelen, EXPOSÉ http://expose.org/index.php/articles/display/carla-diratz-the-archers-of-sorrow-blue-stitches-3.html

One of the many exciting properties of Martin Archer’s Discus label is that way that he can persuade major artists to drop in and record an album or two. On this release we have a peerless French chanteuse surrounded by a band sympathetic to her emotion and energy. For anyone who has not previously experienced Diratz’s approach to singing or lyrics, this (like the last set from this group, ‘The Scale’ – or her work with the Eclectic Maybe Band on ‘Reflections in a Moebius Ring Mirror’) creates a style of music that blends any style that seems most suitable to emotion intensity of the words and her delivery. On the one hand, Diratz has a style of delivery that is akin to the raw emotional intensity of Portuguese Fado or Spanish Flamenco, where the singing wrings every last ounce of feeling from songs of love and loss. On the other hand, she has an approach to delivery that takes the French Torch song tradition and liquidises this to into a rich syrup that is poured liberally over the music. The strongest songs in the set, like ‘A peak at night’, track 5, have the directness of a rock song in its descending chord pattern, albeit with surreal lyrics and squalling trumpet. Indeed, the album’s genesis was in the desire to create a blues album. The songs have a sense of 12-bars but the lyrics and the musicians keep bursting out of the constraints that this imposes to create a prog-rock, modern jazz extrapolation to something individual, unique and unsurpassable (until their next album, no doubt). On track 2, ‘Consumed’, she sings ‘Time has consumed the shadow of my steps’, this mood of (mis)remembering a life well-lived – in all its hopes, disillusions, excitement, and loss – in which, according to track 11, ‘I’m a drifter’, she sings ‘I’ve seen every city and town’. In track 12, ‘Places I’ve been’, this life is not without moments of lightness and darkness and, as an autobiography (either of the singer or the character that is sung about in these songs), the music conveys depth and richness that is equal to Diratz’s spell-binding delivery. – Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS https://jazzviews.net/carla-diratz-the-archers-of-sorrow-blue-stitches/

After this summary excursus of Carla Diratz’s musical activity, everything suggests a new work more or less along the same lines adopted up to now; However, there is a great surprise in Blue Stitches, a new album with the same lineup as The Scale (in addition we only have Adam Fairhall on organ) and, obviously, published by Archer’s Discus. If the first song, Drops Of Remembrances, a splendid depiction of Canterbury style, keeps the expectations and premises intact, from the second piece onwards the entire album is a passionate journey with strong blues hues, an extraordinary immersion in the African-American lands reinterpreted with originality and involvement. It must be said right away: never could such a dirty, harsh, melancholic and rude voice as Diratz’s have been more suitable for this type of music; enough to make us say, because only now have we experimented so intensely with blues roots. But, to immediately clear the field, since we are dealing with musicians capable of experimenting, reinterpreting, distorting and transforming the sound material, the blues of Blue Stitches is the furthest thing there can be from the usual twelve bars, guitar solos and the various stylistic features often adopted in a sterile manner by numerous groups and/or projects that refer to this music. Take for example Consumed, the second track on the album: a distorted sound magma where the usual harmonic succession I IV I V IV V IV I is dilated, torn, with the voice scratching the listener together with a harmonica that whispers the blues breath . “Time has consumed the shadow of my steps,” sings Diratz, and it seems like we are on a painful journey, where music allows neither respite nor comfort. Recalling The Fear is a slowed down blues rock, organ and baritone sax which only apparently perform the typical accompaniment functions, an incandescent lava which provides the harmonic carpet and the streaks of electric guitar to evoke a deep, acid blues. Inner Island, which begins almost in solitude, with the tapping of the foot and voice and harmonica to recall the Delta, is a small fresco within which the interventions of Keeffe’s notable trumpet stand out, urbanizing the piece. There is no shortage of delicate and poignant atmospheres, as in the anomalous ballad The Void, a drop of naked truth in Diratz’s lyrics, or the references to the smoky jazz of the 1940s clubs, in I’ll Be Gone, the West Coast disfigured and no longer dreams of I’m A Drifter and the prog blues of Places I’ve Been. A work of the highest quality in which every piece is in the right place: the acid and psychedelic guitars of Nick Robinson, the evocative and penetrating horns of Martin Archer, the sometimes obsessive and sometimes lively and elegant rhythm of Dave Sturt and Adam Fairclough, the gospel touches of the organ and the jazzy turns of Adam Fairhall’s piano, the free gusts of Charlotte Keeffe’s trumpet. A world of sound in which the particular vocality of Carla Diratz and her intense and visceral lyrics find their natural environment where they can harm the notes, transfigure the blues, bringing out the authenticity, the vitality of a truly timeless music. It is an operation that recalls one of the masters of reinterpretation and reimagining of the African-American musical form par excellence, that Captain Beefheart. – Alberto Popolla https://www.quadernidaltritempi.eu/blue-stitches-carla-diratz-the-archers-of-sorrow/

The same talented people that brought forth the amazing 2021 album ‘The Scale’ have reconvened to lay another staggering collection of music on us all. These gifted folk are Carla Diratz and The Archers of Sorrow, and the new release is called ‘BLUE STITCHES’. From the first time I heard Carla Diratz unique voice and lyrics I was a big fan. The Paris based writer and performer gives full rein to her wealth of experience, Her intimate and dusky timbre issuing a jazz club from Venus vibe. The holy bond she seems to have formed with truly far-out Sheffield sonic pioneers Martin Archer (saxophone & multi-instrumentalist) and Nick Robinson (guitars) gives extra colour and dimensions to the singers fantastical visions. Together, the team are capable of a full steam ahead psyche assault, then drifting through a soundscape gliding behind Diratz evocative narration, then an almost glamrock meets RiO bit of progressive jazz, and every now and then land on a blues lament, which seems to be where the heart of this album resides. The album is of a different tone to 2021’s ‘The Scale’, but like the previous one, the talent on show by both vocalist and instrumental solo-ists is equally divided….. with soaring moments as an ensemble and individually: Archer’s sax, harmonica, electronics & more, Carla’s singing and recitations, plus keyboards, Robinson’s hugely diverse lead and rhythm guitars (and let’s not forget “field recordings”), and also in keeping with the last release, we have the incredible Charlotte Keeffe on gorgeous trumpet duty. I don’t know if you could call ‘Blue Stitches’ an actual “blues” record – but quite possibly it is a “blues” record, in that very special breed of blues records like ‘Electric Ladyland’ by Hendrix, or bits of ‘Bless it’s Pointed Head’ by Jefferson Airplane, or Mexican 90’s wailers, Uzeda and their album ‘Waters’. I could suggest a fantasy collision of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, with a night-tripperesque Magic Band but all these sign posts lead nowhere and I can only recommend that you tune into ‘Blue Stitches’ and get to know this amazing album for yourself. It’s a beautiful experience. Thank you Carla and one and all…… paix. – Mark Bandola, online review.

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