Some Ungodly Hour
(Inconvenient Thoughts And Music)
Archive X seems to be a mysterious character. The titles of the songs hint at religion..Hymnnnn, Drink The Water, Miracle, Pilgrim Of Sorrow…one’s called Hard Time, but is it the Ray Charles number ? turns out to be. Hmm
Hymnnn the opening cut is all vocal but no words, in a deep gospel style with minimal accompaniment. Next up is Pilgrim Of Sorrow..reminds me of Anthony & The Johnstons but lower register for the voices. This isn’t a conventional strong structure which makes it sound like a piece of film music. Slightly clanky electric piano drifts it over the chattering tempo. It just won’t settle and makes me feel edgy. Now the voice has a hint of Thom Yorke and Radiohead aren’t big at Sargeant Acres. The man can sing but the juddering time signature will not relent into something steadier…
Too Much has solemn organ chording and again sounds filmic. Pattering drumming and the odd heavy fuzzy chord give the song some shape but the overall feel is some chapel in space. Suddenly a heavier more emphatic tempo kicks in then gives way to acoustic guitars ; Hard Times is the Ray composition taken almost straight.
Drink The Water finds us in an electric church on an uptempo jaunt ; emphatic tempo and eerie slide guitar rolls us into No Words which has a gentleness which is shot through with a chill. Maybe it’s the lack of warm basslines that is making this all sound so cold? Brother is altogether brisker with its acoustic piano and its vocal prophecy and thick chorale, horrible Brian May style guitar seeping through. Meltdown is full-ahead slide guitar boogie but a tricksy tempo stops it being a pleasant listen.
Been Down is again churchy but more like a song in structure; What You Need puts the heavenly voices and soft strings upfront. Water From The Well is well-sung and hearty but the tempo stiffs it, sorry. The piano solo is ghastly.
Recordings with slide guitars and gospel voices usually swing and get the feet tapping – but this collection rarely does. It’s a real curio. It will be someone’s favourite but I’m off to find a Sly & The Family Stone album…..
(* Thank you, Cat)
Archive X’s new album ‘Some Ungodly Hour’ is out now.