Archive at the Roundhouse
If you were to delve into the band’s history going back to the mid-90s, Archive had a distinctly different sound to the one they have produced in their new album Axiom. Around at the same time as bands like Massive Attack and Portishead, Archive followed them down a similar path with their first album Londinium, released in 1996, and displayed all the deep, funky, expressive and experimental sounds of the trip-hop genre. Archive were definitely the lesser known band of that scene but they have had continued success since their inception, albeit with a slightly different make-up.
Out in force at the Roundhouse, longstanding members Danny Griffiths and Darius Keeler were accompanied on stage by a large choir that included vocalists Maria Q and Holly Martin. The gig was a demonstration of the band’s collective effort and approach; an ensemble of individual voices with no definitive frontman presence. The first 40 minutes were taken up with the band playing their new album Axiom, that also operates as a soundtrack to their film by the same name, which played out on the big screen above the stage. The “very long music video” has now become a bit of a fad in the music industry: Kanye West and Lana Del Rey have also tried their hand at such bold enterprises with slightly bizarre, unimpressive results. Already harbouring an indifferent attitude toward the concept of the music video itself, with its self-promotional posturing and overly-expressive lip syncing, watching a 40-minute long music video was going to be a task. But in fairness to Archive they have actually tried something quite ambitious with this film that portrays some sort of dark dystopian world, and it is compelling, even if a little too similar to Orwell’s 1984. However, it felt as though the film was a distraction to the music, as the crazed narrator in the film banged on about “Axiom” and “Black Icarus”, unfortunately it drowned out some of the highlights of the soundtrack.
The track Transmission Data Terminate is a good song with an edgy drumbeat, dark lyrics and ominous sounds. One of the last songs on the soundtrack Shiver is a real seven-minute epic that demonstrates the band’s versatility and array of musical sounds, displaying a psychedelic, hypnotic clarity similar to Pink Floyd as it moves through the motions from soft synth to a clear punchy piano sound. A song in which one is recurrently summoned back through entrancing lyrics and crisp vocals.
Nobody had paid to watch a film though, and the mood really picked up when it ended and the band began to command the stage more forcefully, playing a collection of their older more disjointed, faster and edgier material. The track Pills from the band’s most successful album Controlling Crowds Part IV from which most of the tracks of the second half were from, helped to pick up the mood with its loud and messy drumbeat, and catchy synth rhythm. Hatchet, a more soulful and cohesive number, helped round off proceedings. Yet, Archive saved the best until last, with the song Dangervisit – a real majestic number in all its pent-up melancholy, something that Archive thrive on.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information and future events visit Archive’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Axiom here: