Genre: Post Rock
Release Date: 28th August 2020
Label: Pias / Dangervisit
Back when Trip-Hop was doing the rounds as a musical genre fusing various styles into something briefly new and exciting, London based ARCHIVE were messing about, experimenting, changing line-ups faster than is healthy, and forging their own sound. Over 25 years later, largely shedding the Trip Hop sound and opting for more post-rock stylings, and having transitioned through even more personal alterations (I’ve never read “due to personal differences” so many times in one band’s biography) ARCHIVE have decided to re-release and remix ten of their songs in radically different disguises of themselves. Why? Who knows, but the results are here, on new album ‘Versions’ (can you see what they did there?).
Opening with ‘Lights’ shows this is no slouch however. At nearly 8 minutes long, this dreamy, epic, proggy journey benefits enormously from the softer treatment, the distinctive drum sound of the original dropped for a more melancholic and organic sound. Similarly the pulse and fizz of ‘Kid Corner’ is stripped away to leave the bones of voice and piano to carry the melody, and it works surprisingly well once shorn of all its supporting instrumentation.
Swopping the deadpan male vocals of fan favourite ‘Fuck U’ (even PLACEBO covered this as the B-side to ‘Ashtray Heart’) for cutesy female ones seems merely an indulgence however, and the raw power that surges gradually through the original is lost here. Yet on the gorgeous and disturbing ‘Erased’, nothing suffers for the stripping back of the spidery percussion, this version sitting proudly as a companion piece to its stunning older sister. And on ‘Nothing Else’, the changes are subtle but bring the vocals forward and cut-out much of the distraction – there was often a feeling in trip hop that shoving THAT beat over a perfectly good song to get it to fit the genre left a kind of coldness and factory-made predictability. This version works well.
‘End Of Our Days’ is like watching a vast, majestic ship sailing slowly by on some calm and beautiful horizon, the slow, slow swell and the gradual fading into the distance, leaving a real sense of yearning. But then it was this way upon its original release, and on ‘Versions’ all that really happens is you are reminded of what a superb song it actually is. So a bit of a mixed bag, as these things always are. If you are a fan of ARCHIVE, this will be an essential addition, and there are certainly some interesting re-workings here, allowing a stark and sparse vulnerability show through the original gloss. But these things serve more as a distraction, and until something new and interesting comes along from the band, best stick with these songs in the context of when they were written. It’s been a funny old year for re-invention…
02. Kid Corner
03. Bright Lights
04. Fuck U
08. Nothing Else
09. Remains Of Nothing
10. End Of Our Days
Darius Keeler - Keyboards, synthesizer, piano, organ, programming, arrangements, production
Danny Griffiths - Keyboards, samples, additional programming, arrangements, production
Pollard Berrier - Vocals, guitar
Dave Pen - Vocals, guitar, percussions
Maria Q - Vocals
Holly Martin - Vocals
Jonathan Noyce - Bass
Steve “Smiley” Barnard - Drums
Mike Bird - Guitar
https://www.archiveofficial.uk / https://www.facebook.com/ArchiveOfficial
Total: 7.5 / 10