Das Rad
Das Rad
Discus 75CD
Available formats: CD/DL

Stunning prog-friendly improv-rock from Sheffield stock. If you don’t know the name of multi-instrumentalist and Discus Musics’ owner Martin Archer, then you’ve not been paying attention to some of the most interesting developments in British jazz, psych and rock during the last 25 years. His latest cross-genre experiment finds him in the company of guitarist Nick Robinson and Radio Massacre International’s keyboardist / drummer Steve Dinsdale. An extremely accessible, at times almost poppy collection of instrumental tracks, it’s a skilful integration of jazzy muscularity, noodling electronica and invigorating surges of air-punching rock. Mostly they appear as concisely constructed bursts with a punk-like brevity that brings urgency and impact to scrunching guitar riffs and luminous shafts of Mellotron strings. However, their two epic-length explorations Porto Steps and London Steps combine mesmeric mid-tempo beats and throbbing bass to frame scudding sax drifts, twinkling daubs of guitar and billowing atmospherics to form a blissful and immersive environment. Elsewhere two sumptuous acoustic guitar pieces add bucolic interludes to an album already overflowing with expressive tunes and startling quality. – Sid Smith, PROG

Nick Robinson – electric and acoustic guitars, loops, electronics
Martin Archer – saxophones, clarinets, flutes, recorders, melodica, keyboards, electronics, synth bass
Steve Dinsdale – electric drums, acoustic percussion, synth

94CD - Das Rad
Das Rad
Adios Al Futuro
19CD - Masayo Asahara
Das Rad
Laik Tors
104EP – Das Rad – Qul Na Qar
Das Rad
Qul Na Qar
Das Rad


Das Rad (German for “The Wheel”, and germane to the band’s ever-spinning proclivities) seems to encapsulate and deconstruct the entire history of British avant-rock in one fell swoop. Archer and his compatriots—drummer and synthesist Steve Dinsdale, of grand electro-prog trio Radio Massacre International, and guitarist/loopist/electronicist Nick Robinson—court echoes of everything you loved about UK eccentric rock tropes of the past three decades, and then rocket to the heavens with an experimental zeal few of their colleagues can muster. The interstellar fug of space hucksters Hawkwind peek in from time to time, and myriad Canterbury influences are self-evident, though refracted through a prism that distorts its fabric most enigmatically (“Canterbury Steps”). Even the Pink Floyd-drenched psychedelia that informs Dinsdale’s parent band RMI rears its sun-dappled head throughout the lengthier explorations of sister tracks “Porto Steps” and “London Steps”, both of which are anchored by Archer’s piquant, Surman-esque sax playing. Bottom line is that all anecdotal evidence aside, these fellas are simply having a blast. There’s a vivacity to the playing that’s absorbing and eventful in a way few of prog’s ilk would cop to. Archer’s serpentine lines so beautifully enmesh themselves amongst the electronics of “Porto Steps” that you forget it’s essentially one long hunk of jammin’ dreamdrift, rendered with a diamond-cutter’s precision and more ideas than could be found in the deepest topographic ocean. That the trio enjoys a good riff and isn’t afraid to loosen up its confines with something like ‘funk’ (“Tenser”) and/or the wide-open spaces bespoken of free jazz by way of King Crimson (“Sehnsucht”) speaks volumes about where ‘rock’ music can still go after all these years. It’s mystifying and surely ignorant when hirsute music buffs speak of progressive rock needing to adhere to a certain established vocabulary that renders it all but inert, calcified into well-trodden modes that hardly progress at all—the new boss, same as the old boss. Archer, Dinsdale, and Robinson sure as hell ain’t having none of that jazz; making mincemeat out of the molecular structure of blurt, bleat, and bloop, theirs is a necessary shock to the system, and pretty damn Rad at that. – Darren Bergstein, SQUIDS EAR

Martin Archer is very proud of this one, and he’s right: Das Rad is great platter of Canterbury-tinged jazz/rock/pog fusion. It grooves and it flies and it spirals and time passes by with your foot tapping and your ears bewitched from start to finish. A must-have! – FRANCOIS COUTURE

More from the imaginary artistic world of multi-instrumentalist, multi-reedman, Martin Archer and associates is a welcome surprise. Then again, the artist’s Discus label offers a huge discography devised on dissimilar, futuristic and unorthodox outcomes. Other than the one-off modern jazz outings, Archer is a crafty, forward-thinking musician, spanning numerous ensembles, large and small. Here, the trio seemingly abides by a compose as-you-go rite of passage that embeds experimental jazz fusion, psycho pop, classic progressive rock and a slew of abstractions via a polytonal soundstage amid the label’s customary audiophile grade sound engineering. With Steve Dinsdale’s perky backbeats and the soloists’ quirky and/or melodic themes, many of these works are treated with airy and streaming electronics-based backwashes, occasionally tinted with 1970s style Krautrock stylizations. Moreover, several motifs convey semblances of distress, pleasure and wit, Although they play it even keel on “Boom,” which is a tune concocted with a harmonious synth line, fuzz bass and mellotron voicings outlined within an up-tempo prog rock cadence. “Sehnsucht” is punched out by the drummer’s funk-rock beats, topped off by Archer’s yearning sax soloing and guitarist Nick Robinson’s hard strumming chord passages and intensifying phrases, as the band overlays the moving parts with a diminutive theme. Other works feature Archer’s laid-back jazzy sax grooves, off-centered constructions, drifting EFX statements, delicately executed sound-shaping mechanisms and wacky synth mutations. But Robinson multi-tracks guitars on the classical-flavored solo etude, “Fernweh.” Indeed, the variety of the track mix morphed with a parade of disparate tonal sequences and an abundance of solid improvisations loom as a persuasive set of developments on this gratifying studio date. – Glenn Astarita, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

Das Rad is a Sheffield group driven by guitar, sax, and drums, hellbent on a motorik plummet down through the orange glow of the urban night. Combining developed arrangements with textural and improvised pieces, the driving rhythm encourages tyre-slash guitar to burn rubber across the surface of Tenser, ending in a Hendrix-inspired crash’n’burn. Play this mutha LOUD! – Roger Trenwith, THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT

Martin Archer founded Discus thirty years ago this year and has pushing the envelope of what we might expect from jazz-based music ever since. Describing itself as the adventurous label, two recent releases that dropped through my letterbox are both vivid sonic adventures that use very different foundations as their jumping-off points. Das Rad was formed by label boss Martin along with Steve Dinsdale and Nick Robinson as a place for collective composition. Their self-titled album is a long and varied journey that on my first listen I assumed was the work of about seven or eight players, but it is only the three of them. They create an expansive and dense song suite that, with the addition of electronics from all three, pushes the whole thing into experimental territory. guitar picks out odd textures and the sax is warm and welcomingThe bouncy synths of opener “Whatever You Want”, allied to a crisp acoustic guitar and flute, make for a propulsive and addictive rhythm. The guitar picks out odd textures and the sax is warm and welcoming. There is space for everybody here, but although I think of Discus as quite a free label, there is structure here that points some of the sounds in a kind of motorik direction. Americana guitars and wandering horns populate “Heisse Rader”, but the addition of a trilling flute lends a pastoral air to this track that is refreshing. The loop experiments on “Canterbury Steps” make it sparse yet meditative and it feels like the soundtrack to an esoteric wildlife show; a creature that is rarely seen being softly pursued through a mysterious landscape. naughty electronics that scamper like mice in and out of the ever-evolving trackThere are elements to some tracks that remind me of Trans Am and their synth-led dash through a darkened cityscape, but here underpinned by guitar that lends it a more interesting feeling. There are a couple of particularly long tracks that stretch to ten and fifteen minutes, but they are not focal points of the album. You have the feeling that each track has a natural length that the trio decided on. So for the fifteen-minute “Porto Steps”, there is a smoothness to the beat and the saxophone that is overturned by the naughty electronics that scamper like mice in and out of the ever-evolving track, but there are also two tiny pastoral guitar sketches, “Fernweh 1″ and ” Fernweh 2″, that are like subtle palate cleansers. Snatches of Tortoise-like sounds appear on “Ohrwurm” and the texture of the guitar on “Tenser” grows a little wild, joining forces with an irresistible longform drone. The album rounds out with “London Steps”, which has more of a deserted seaside vibe, very relaxed and all about mood. The melodica is playful while the sax is more thoughtful, and it all ebbs and flows as the percussion wriggles and writhes around. You feel that this is very much a journey through the studio, their pot of ideas somehow holding together as they hop from one style to another. There is an improv element that has nothing to prove, just the gentle sound of musicians enjoying themselves but making a statement. – Joe Wiffen, FREQ

The name of the band points to the German roots of the music here. As well, of course, as being an acronym of the band members, ‘das rad’ means ‘the wheel’, and so there is a many-layered set of puns at play in naming the band and its approach to making music. In several of the tunes here, they take the motorik rhythms of classic German rock bands on the ‘70s, merge these with basslines that come from the North of England in the ‘80s and mash this up with a very contemporary take on jazz-rock. This makes for a very accessible and engaging set of pieces that ought to find a wide across audiences of all manner of genres. Three tunes (‘Canterbury steps’, track 3, ‘Porto steps’, track 8 and ‘London steps’, track 12) work a different vibe, with loops, backbeats and electronic experimentation under subtle lyricism. All of this, within the improvisatory frameworks that characterise Discus releases and Archer’s approach to making music. More than this, though; the liner notes point out that the trio set out to make a ‘European record by European musicians…our own small protest against the political and social insanity which coincides with the release of this work’. What is so intriguing about the music here is the way that (as Archer so often does) it takes a set of musical styles, immerses itself in their history and then invents an entirely new direction that these styles could have taken. There is an odd sense that you are listening to music recorded at some point in the 70s, or 80s, or 90s but equally something that is entirely contemporary. – Chris Baber JAZZ VIEWS

Well, here, guys, obviously, we play in the courtyard are very large. DAS RAD is a trio, but each of its members to him only his heavy weighing of respect and admiration. First include Steve DINSDALE, who plays drums and sometimes keyboards within the very mythical electronic trio English RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL. Then include Nick ROBINSON, an ACE absolute guitar loops, it does develop, evolve and disappear at will, such a magician of sound. Include finally Martin ARCHER, who, in multi-instrumentalist, accomplished, both play the saxophone, clarinet, flute and keyboards, officiates at the breast of nothing less than ORCHESTRA OF THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE and COMBAT ASTRONOMY, and, no less, has also founded the Discus Music label. Then, when three musicians from this huge caliber come in the same studio, we’re already certain of the stratospheric quality of the result. And the content of this album is good one, twelve songs rich, dense and exciting, where stand out especially two major and beautiful parts Puerto Steps and London Steps, of which the duration exceeds 10 minutes. This is bold, refined, often epic, sometimes spirited, always controlled, always excellent. Very great art, really. Steve’S drums initiate the movement and insists the “beat”, Nick will hold on the tempo and launches her curls, and Martin surfed top and we train with him in musical heaven. It’s unstoppable in remaining continually stylish, “high british quality” requires. Styles follow one another, add or mark their territories, rock, jazz, psyche, Berlin school, prog’, canterbury, electronica, or ambient, it is jostling at the door and my faith isn’t always good, of the very good. A mean electric guitar riff puts you at Earth, a cosmic stroke of mellotron relieving you and makes you go through the universe, this is the basic rule. As you can see, this album is a transmusicale Odyssey in twelve stops much tastier. So, if you are adventurous, the wow!, the set pieces and the top level for musicians trained in all the achievements, feel free; you’re a love! – Frédéric Gerchambeau, RHYTHMS CROISES

Das Rad nennt sich ein relativ neues Projekt des umtriebigen Martin Archer, den man auf diesen Seiten schon aufgrund seiner Solowerke, aber auch als Macher der Formationen Engine Room Favourites, Story Tellers, Inclusion Principle, Transient v Resident, Juxtavoices und vor allem des Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere kennt. Vor wenigen Jahren formierte dieser ein Trio mit dem Gitarristen Nick Robinson und Steve Dinsdale (radio massacre international und Archers Bandkollege beim Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere), mit dem Ziel progressive Instrumentalrockmusik zu schaffen (Zitat: ‘driving motorik music’), die gleichzeitig auch freier Improvisiertes und komplexeres Komponiertes beinhalten sollte. Nach dem man eine Weile sporadisch live tätig war, legt das Trio im November 2018 sein Debütalbum auf Archers Discus-Label vor. Ein farbiger und vielschichtiger Instrumentalprog ist auf “Das Rad” zu finden, versehen mit gelegentlichen krautrockigen, Canterbury-artigen und crimsonesk-frippigen Reminiszenzen. Ein recht umfangreiches Instrumentarium setzt die wohl als Gitarren-Sax-Schlagzeug-Trio gestartete Band hier ein. Elektronisch verstärkte und akustische Gitarren, allerlei Blasinstrumente, Schlagzeug und Perkussion, und diverse elektronische Sounds, Keyboardklänge und Effektgerätschaften erzeugen vorwiegend die Musik. Das Ergebnis ist eine Mischung aus druckvollem, von Dinsdales Schlagzeug voran getriebenem modernem Prog, freierem elektronischen Klangbasteln, Jazzrockigem, ausgiebigen Retroingredienzien und ein wenig Experimentell-Avantgardistischem (Avantprog). Ein bisschen Krautrock à la Neu! und Harmonia, bzw. verwandte motorisch-repetitive Rhythmusmuster, eine Prise Canterbury, vor allem minimalistische E-Pianomuster im Geiste von Soft Machine (man höre “Canterbury Steps”) oder entsprechende Sax- bzw. Flötenlinien, ein paar mellotronartige Muster, ein guter Schuss rezentere King Crimson, Stickprog und Frippsche Soundscapes – die Retroingredienzien – werden hier vermengt mit jazzigen Saxlinien, klangvollen Flöteneinlagen (auch Blockflöte), allerlei hallenden und schallenden Gitarrenexzessen, dichten Elektronikgeflechten, kammerprogressivem Rohrblatthupen, sonoren Tastenteppichen und unzähligen klangmalenden, flirrenden, hupenden, zischenden, fiependen, knurrenden, säuselnden und jaulenden instrumentalen Verzierungen. Mal sehr rhythmisch, mal formlos-schwebend gleitet diese Musik dahin, klangvoll und voluminös, bisweilen sehr mächtig und dynamisch, oft aber auch verspielt mäandernd bzw. hypnotisch-kosmisch wabernd (man höre das abschließende “London Steps”). “Das Rad” biete ein sehr farbiges, retro-modernes Proggemenge mit viel Hall und Atmosphäre, welches Proggerinnen und Proggern, die kantigen Instrumentalprogs mit starker Elektronikkomponente und jazzigen Verunreinigungen schätzen, sehr zusagen sollte. – ACHIM BREILING, BABYBLAUE ZEITEN

A sonic space in which krautrock, electronic jazz and the more experimental side of post 1980s indie rock converge with creditable results. – Selwyn Harris, JAZZWISE

Latest Discus release is Das Rad’s self-titled album (DISCUS 75CD) …this trio of players is Martin Archer plus guitarist Nick Robinson and drummer Steve Dinsdale, and they started it a couple of years ago just as a way they could have fun playing what they call “motorik music”. Drummer Dinsale has appeared on previous Archer projects, but guitarist Robinson is new to me. The plan is to sometimes work with arrangements and give themselves the discipline of a framework, while still hewing true to that spirit of free playing and improvising they love so well. Archer contributes woodwinds, but also keyboards and electronics, and though the nucleus of the band could be called a sax-guitar-drums thing, there’s evidently plenty of scope to lushen up the arrangements into something pretty fruity. This is one of the more enjoyable Discus items we’ve heard for a while – pretty much in the mode of open-ended electronic rock music not far apart from some of your favourite krautrock and prog records – and sometimes edging into the same sort of fusion-ish territory as Gary Boyle, Association P.C., or Arte e Mestieri. Even the disk artwork is designed to resemble the famed Harvest label of the 1970s, home to everyone from Kevin Ayers to Quatermass. While sometimes this very melodic and accessible music may start to feel a little cloying and sweet if heard for long periods, the musicianship is exceptional, and it’s clear that all players are not just enjoying themselves but fulfilling a deep-seated need to make this kind of music. As ever with Archer records lately though, I find there’s just so much of it; the material could have been edited down to LP length to produce a much punchier result. But Archer’s generosity of spirit cannot be contained, and we all benefit from this largesse. The track titles all have European references and themes, and this is intended as a protest against the “political and social insanity” that is Brexit. “We think of this as a European record by European musicians,” states Archer firmly. Music like this is the perfect riposte to narrow-mindedness and to those who would deprive us of freedom of thought; it’s a melodic advert for freedom. – Ed Pinsent, SOUND PROJECTOR

The eponymous debut CD covers a lot of ground in its twelve tracks, from the upbeat and groovy to the abstract or moody, in fact so much ground that it would be pointless to do a track by track review. Basically, the disc starts with an upbeat number that kind of reminds me of that old 70s outfit Quiet Sun (with Phil Manzanera) given a lively modern update, then we go mid-tempo, atmospheric and moody, majestic, then light classical acoustic, before then getting funky with synths and sax. Track 7: Sehnsucht does much of the former all in one track, getting a little Lard Free like, it moves through upbeat and more low-key phases (the latter with reverse Frippian guitar and multi-voiced saxophone), and crams a lot into its 5:43 duration. The three most experimental tracks all end with the word “Steps” and feel improvised, all with lots of nice expressionistic noodling on guitar by Nick. In all, not a bad debut, and one with many surprises. – AUDION

Zdůrazněně evropská formace Das Rad, časosběrně těžící ze své dosavadní činnosti, se na svém eponymním albu poněkud vymyká z programu Archerova labelu. Jako by kytarista Nick Robinson, multiinstrumentalista Martin Archer a perkusista Steve Dinsdale nemínili zabrousit do objevování čehosi (zatím) neznámého/nepoznaného; připadá mi, že na svých dvanácti hudebních výpravách, zdatně podepřených elektronikou, spíše chtějí využít, co znají, porovnat se s notoricky povědomými záležitostmi, ne je však pouze oživit, nýbrž proútočit se s nimi do nového vzmachu a nabídnout je bez okolků v nepřímočarém kontextu. Jestliže si přitom zaprotestují proti politické či sociální sterilitě, je to hodnota navíc – uhodni tento záměr, kdo ho dokážeš vytušit. Hned od okamžiku, kdy se chvatně, ba opřekot vprskávavě vecpe do našeho povědomí úvodní Whatever You Want, připomíná nám něco známého, povědomého, ovšem proskřipcovaného a návalně natříštěného, tudíž obojživelně – totiž smíšeně tmeleného z hotových artefaktů a jejich nového pro(s)corování. Podobně Heisse Räder namotává odliku známého přístupu se skrumážovou pohromovostí a horečným rozechvěním a Canterbury Steps vyhřeznou do načechrávaného poškobrtání, bzučivě i pomňoukle vycítěného i vycíděného do zponáhleného povzdalování. Fičivé i smrštné Boom zase pro změnu vyjuchává, probouchává se do rozdmýchané sirénovosti, což nezamezí návratnost do promelodizování a prorytmizování, dorážené (opět) do směsi povědomosti a mimoděčnosti. Obě minutové Fernweh jsou spíše meziherné, to první kytara rozchlácholí, to druhé mírumilovně nabídne odpočivnou ladnost. Ale je to Return To Schriesheim, ve kterém se muzikanti oddávají řádivé uhlazenosti (což nemusí a ani nemá být protimluv) a výmykovosti i stabilitě v jednom ranci. Prostě si to rozhalovačně šinou bez zábran a zvratů, s nenahodilou prostocvičností. Naproti tomu (jak je předurčeno už názvem) Sehnsucht se vyjevuje zpovzdálí, nicméně se vyšisuje do naléhavostní rétoriky, rozhybněné až do perpetuální palby a opovážlivé výkřikovosti, uskřinuté do zabloudilosti. Potom se ovšem hajdalácky rozjíví a zroztodivní patnáctiminutové Porto Steps, hatmatilkově nabudilé a trajdavě (zá)chvatné, cíleně rozcapivé, rozhlédačně znekonečňující celý velký příběh krok za krokem s pozastavovaným probíráním propíráním, což jej rozkouzluje do bravurní pronikavosti. Öhrwurm odpovídá pojmenování, je vyhučeně vybzukován s motorickým vybušováním, aby nás uchvátil a bezelstně opojil náš sluch. Avšak to, co více odpovídá celkovému směřování, je Tenser, nesmlouvavý a nenechavý, dobyvačně přímočarý, směsně zahoufněný, skluzavkový i zabombovaný, rozlícený i rozjímavý. Rozehrávání London Steps je rozléhavě náplavné, svázanostně pugétované a hatmatilkově namotávané, hlasově ozvláštněné Julií Archer, jeho hlavní linka je podporována prodíravým paběrkováním, poskládaným z různorodých výlevů, směstnaných do jednolitého ubalení. Dokud není dovzdáleno s konečnou platností. Vida, co všechno může expandovat z návaznosti na využití zdánlivě efemérní známosti. Že by na hrubý pytel hrubá záplata? To by bylo asi příliš přímočaré a neodpovídalo by Archerově devíze proonačit se vždy k něčemu nesamozřejmému, ba i nepřístojnému. – Zdenek Slaby, HISVOICE

Translate »

You can buy your CD or DL either direct from Discus Music or from Bandcamp. The prices and the postage charges are the same on both sites, but Bandcamp will charge you VAT on DL only purchases. Whichever site you choose, the DL element is delivered to your Bandcamp collection.

Discus pays a 10% commission to Bandcamp on sales there, but if you buy direct from Discus Music we get to keep 100% – which of course we prefer! But in the end, please buy from whichever site suits you best.