Another Fantastic Individual
(2019 - Discus Music - UK)
A fantastic (the title has the right word) and most delicious day trip to many unusual and curious places, as the listener lays down the welcome mat for the brilliant and inventive world of Martin Archer. This is the first true solo album of a marvelous and outstanding saxophone player, but as you will see, he is also a well seasoned multi-instrumentalist on baritone, tenor, alto & sopranino saxophones, saxello, bass clarinet, flute, recorder, melodica, acoustic and sampled percussion, software instruments, electronics, piano and organ. His 40 plus years of devotion to the The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, which is all about "nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music," is fully realized here.
For those who are in the dark, Martin also founded (along with Mick Beck) Discus Music in 1994, which is a broad music business that provides the world with amazing artists that range from dreamy to abstract, jazz, and fusions of many sorts, from extremely inventive musicians with varied backgrounds. Once you tap into the catalog, you will be hooked. I'd also like to brag about the Discus label having their CDs produced with such nice packaging, going the extra mile, with plastic disc protector sleeves, which cuts down on scratches, and they are also anti-static. A+++ for that alone.
This solo Archer has done ('solo music for woodwind, percussion & electronics'), is quite a collage of magic, playfulness, intrigue, mystery, flirtation, humor, risk, nobility, and creative display. Never mundane, and nothing routine, 'Another Fantastic Individual' (which Martin said is a frozen ice cream treat) has so many dimensions, you will lose yourself as the recording continues. An amazing storyline type performance, it is highly animated, full of movement, so lively and quizzical. It is like taking an entire week off, to visit a circus and carnival (one with all those odd mirrors, a funhouse, plenty of wild rides, and clowns), a zoo (with beasts and fowl you have never seen or heard before), stopping at a street corner to watch a puppet show, and perhaps viewing a series of silent television shows from the masters of comedy - Laurel & Hardy, with this being the soundtrack to them all. Then you find a small swing band at another street, full of joy and good vibes.
If you fear hearing another album of squealing and wailing out of control sax solos, no worries. Even when Archer does impressive high speed runs on his various winds, he keeps the volume perfectly tame and actually soothing. His many years of playing showcases his virtuoso touch. With plenty of orchestrated percussion and other instruments, the entertainment factor is gigantic. These are 13 pieces that have so much life and energy, if you blink you will miss something. I asked about the process he used to make the album, and he most definitely composed it all, with lead lines being laid down first, and then additional tracks as they worked out. He said that it would be near impossible for a band to perform any of the numbers live, since their is so little actually written down, and much of it was done in repeated auditions and times. If a great, yet small ice cream treat inspires this type composing and playing, please have another one of those soon Martin.
In fact, this is for both the multiple sax lover and ones who might never want to touch a solo with sax on it. Now I knew Martin was a great sax player and music label hero for us new music seekers, but I didn't realize what a fine composer and creator with all the other various instruments he was. I can't compare it to any single other artist/band, but parts of it made me think of the fabulous avant-garde tricksters such as Picchio dal Pozzo and Henry Cow. However, I don't feel it should be bogged down with comparisons, as it is certainly his own masterpiece. It does have the free jazz spirit, yet keeps coherent, and is fully entrancing. It is beyond what anyone would expect, and that is saying a stuffed mouth full. I was glued to my chair from start to finish, and then again on another day's repeat listen. A GIANT RECOMMENDATION!
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 6 - 10 - 2019