Thursday, 23 June 2011

Archive - Controlling Crowds [2009]

Is it possible to get completely knocked out by an album twice, like if it was the very first listen? I wouldn’t think so, but hearing Archive live made me discover their last album like if I never heard it before. And well, that’s the main reason for making yet another tale of them!

Controlling Crowds consists of four parts that all together last well over two hours – and got a few release options – limited edition of parts I-III, standard I-III and IV or the stunning The Complete Edition Parts I-IV (which I have the luck to own and recommend;)) The unusual cut – 3 parts and 1 last separate is caused by the length of part IV – 48 minutes and 11 songs.

But from the beginning. The album is opened by the title track - Controlling Crowds – slowly evolving piece with trancing instrumentals and an amazing vocal performance by Pollard Berrier singing about his fears of modern society. The song fluently changes to Bullets with even more anxious, almost rapped vocals and catchy chorus (personal responsibilty!) – no wonder this song was chosen as first single and rising guitar wall – you can literally feel the temperature rising;) Not for long though – Words On Sings is a sad tune with piano, hidden violins and Dave Pen on vocals crushing girls’ (boys’ too probably) hearts yelling: /There’s nobody here for me now/ and again coming back to low-voice small talk.

Dangervisit once again hosts Pollard and presents one of the finest, most complex compositions on the album, made even greater by really varied vocalises, changes of rhythm and direction of songs. Really spectacular, especially live with its culmination point and Pollard’s dance. Quiet Time concludes part first and introduces yet another vocalist – rapper Rosko John supported in the end by Pollard. Why is this song so stunning? mix of guys’ voices, amazing bass line and again strings mixing with Darius&Danny key effects? I can’t tell for sure, but the heavens cried while they played it and so did I.

Part II brings an end to Pollardomination – we get first piece - Collapse/Collide - filled with Maria Q's voice and gripping combination of electronics and guitar section. The following Clones keep the style and atmosphere, but we’re back to Pollard, now doing a childish sweet melody – yet something changes! The guitars get more aggressive and loop less trancy, more dynamic. Little cracks prophecy a break and indeed Bastardised Ink is a all-Rosko track backed up only by flat melodies of guitar, simple loop and cut, shaky Maria ‘aaa’, nice, but rather pale compared to other songs.

Kings of Speed closes the part and is probably the easiest and most charming part of it. Nice guitar, stunning bass (great Mr Noyce) and well suiting loops. All that creates a great atmosphere and amazing, growing bridges, but the song wouldn’t be that good without Dave once again showing that his a master of simple, but fresh and charming melodies (perfect for humming all day long without a shame ‘you hum Gaga!:o’).

Part III puts on simple beginning – piano, bass, drums and Maria with her despising /you’re just a whore! and nothing more/ (Whore). But don’t get offended! Chaos is the loveliest, saddest ballade – pure and really simple – just Pollard and piano rising to forte outburst of emotion, strengthened by strings and female whispers. Pure beauty! Razed to the Ground belongs to Rosko and thanks to nice rhythm and pulsating hm... something! seems quite interesting even to the rapping-foes like myself;) Pollard closes with Funeral in a really splendid style, although to me – a little too splendid and too little emotional, but we still have...

Part IV to go. Released a couple of months later, the most different from others. It begins with Maria backed up by Pollard – Pills – fast, aggressive guitar wall broken by industrial electronic bridges. The singers’ cooperation is much more present and following Lines are the best proof – Rosko’s verses and Maria&Pollard chorus (not very original though – /Lines, Lines, la la la la la la Lines, Lines/). Another charming thing about it is broken rhythm – from waltz to classic hip-hop and backwards.

The Empty Bottle is Dave’s song and has a delightful video picturing him making weird faces while running;) but it’s beautiful in a cheerful, happy way even without it – great guitars, great effects, loops and Dave. Enough to become my third favourite! Remove is a pretty, a bit chillout ballad with Pollard, but I must mention, that concert version (hi, it’s me, Pol and this is my acoustic guitar) makes a much bigger impression on me.

Come On Get High is a more I-III parts stylised song with its slow, electronic passages and Pollard floating on the oceans of sadness. And of course a lovely guitar+choir in the second part. In Thought Conditioning Rosko raps to ‘We will, we will, rock you!!” only without backing vocals and with slightly changed lyrics;) The Feeling of Losing Everything is a piercing sad song pretty much in their old style and Blood in Numbers is Pollard’s rhythmic, nice but not really appealing to me composition. To the End is a strong point, often played live and really admirable with its simple piano melody and choir from whole collective.

puts a sad dialogue between loops, strings and Pollard. Though is it really sad? A hard one to figure out, I’d say. And we come to an end – Lunar Bender – leading us to outer space. The spacey instrumental  trips and shadowed voice of Pollard always make me think he’s drifting somewhere between Moon and Venus...

Let me leave you drifting with him, free to decide whether or not they seduced you. Me? yes, thousand times. Now, please, give me another opportunity to see you. How I love the chaos in you.

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