There are plenty of examples of acts in the recent history of dance music who brought the group dynamic to club informed ends. From Mount Kimbie to Elektro Guzzi and on to the likes of Brandt Brauer Frick, there’s something undeniably thrilling about the stark originality and blossoming ideas that spring from collectives that move the rigid structures and formulas away from the singular ego of the one-man band.
Archie Pelago are another one of these groups, except as with the aforementioned, it’s a gross disservice to lump them in with anyone else. As much as a solo artist can forge their own path away from the trends of their peers, the conflict and collision that go into a group action when applied to electronic music production opens a staggering world of possibility. This is essentially a long-winded way of explaining that Archie Pelago stand proudly on their own, and in this EP for fledgling New York label and better established party Mister Saturday Night, they have demonstrated why they’re a very exciting proposition.
The fun begins with “Brown Oxford” a track defined by a double bass line, although judging by the set up of the band and the sound’s prevalence in most of their output it may well be Cosmo D’s cello being plucked in a low register. On top of this come poignant stabs of trumpet and saxophone, clearly played live, while the drums work around a house-of-sorts template. The kick is one of the few elements behaving itself, as the snares and toms rumble and tumble their way through in a jazzy, freeform manner, all feeding into a loose-limbed and warm embrace of a track.
“Alice” is a breezier affair, quicker in tempo but also a little more wistful in its melodic content, replete with females oohs and aahs that wind around a myriad layering of melodic flutters, building towards a crescendo of exuberance and fulfillment that comes in no small part from the abundance of purpose-recorded organic matter. Languishing on the B-Side is “Frederyck Swerl”, which seems to revel in its laconic ambience as the beat gets left to one side to allow found sounds to clatter quietly in the background, while sax and other indefinable elements chase each other around an amorphous bed of contented musicality. It’s a cosy concoction that soothes as it surprises, steeped in proficiency for playing but also controlled enough to steer away from self-indulgence.
1. Brown Oxford
3. Frederyk Swerl