Archive remain largely undiscovered in the UK despite the rest of Europe having taken the band to their hearts. Connected to The Alarm via the presence of Smiley on drums and Steve Harris on guitar (who played with the band at this years Gathering) it is about time you discovered this fantastic band for yourself.
From the earlier "trip-hop" days to the latter full blown modern prog they continue to release albums to critical acclaim, here to introduce those not familiar with Archive is Joff's review of the bands 2009 album "Controlling Crowds (Parts 1-3)".
Not many albums these days really stand out yet alone be considered as classic, but this one does both! The genre free Archive have made some stunning albums over the years but "Controlling Crowds (Parts 1-3)" may well be their masterpiece. The band are so often classed as being a trip hop act but nothing is further from the truth, sure there are some electronic drum loops that wouldn't be out of place on a Massive Attack release, but it is Smileys drumming that gives the sound more depth and feeling. Indeed on songs such as the title track "Controlling Crowds" it gives a deeper experience taking the songs to a whole different level and providing the album with an extremely "meaty" sound.
"Controlling Crowds" is a touching experience completed by it's haunting vocals and atmosphere. There is no need to highlight any stand out track as this album needs to be listened to as a whole, every single note is needed and nothing goes to waste. The importance that the guitar of Steve Harris contributes is sometimes overlooked as the synths and keys of Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths are very prominent thoughout the album but it is Steve's guitar that is essential as it bonds the tracks together and brings the whole experience to life.
Archive do not sit well in any one genre which may be why they remain so little known in the UK where everything must have it's own little box. Some bands produce music that doesn't want to be compartmentalised, it is what it is and that's how it is meant to be, this is where you will find "Controlling Crowds". If you need to picture this is terms of other bands then I would say it would appeal to fans of How To Destroy Angels, Gary Numan, Porcupine Tree, No-Man, latter day Marillion and even elements of Pink Floyd.
If you want an album that will pull you in with every note then I recommend putting "Controlling Crowds (Part 1-3)" on and when it has finished press play again...and again....and again! After that experience then it is time to explore the bands follow up album "Controlling Crowds (Part 4)"!