Disconnected Bliss

Discus / 8CD

Martin Archer (synthesisers, electronics, soranino sax), John Jasnoch (guitars, electronics)

Archer and Jasnoch have really come up with the goods here — a great disk of electro-improv which is utterly contemporary and full of variety. Archer seems to have been listening to some quality drum ‘n’ bass, or perhaps some Paul Schutze, and his electronics skitter along in that lopsided way, a sort of dance music for insects. Most duets of electronics and live instruments are hit-and-miss: this just keeps on hitting.

Only in this kind of music can a piano fill turn into a controlled squeal of static with apparent sponenaity. Archer seems to take seriously the idea that electronics put all possible sounds at your disposal, but he doesn’t lose sight of the fact that music has a history and that reference-points are useful, if not essential. Instead of going all-out for abstraction, then, he also throws drum tracks, breakbeats, atonal piano and jazzy sopranino into the generally dark ambient mix. The result is sometimes exhilarating, as on the teasing “Mojo Filter”, which keeps promising a groove but remains for the most part subterranean.

Into this, Jasnoch launches himself with a variety of guitar sounds, mostly fairly conventional ones, his signature being a not unpleasant sort of untreated electric twang reminiscent of Jan Akkerman. He has a knack for finding the right note for the right place, as with his clanking, rather haunting chords on “Mir”. At other times, he goes for full-on solos; these are not always successful, but if he sometimes struggles with only Archer’s more abstract noisescapes for company, he sometimes hits the nail right on the head, too.

And in this kind of music, the drifting feel of a soloist who has come loose from his tether and is searching for ideas need not be completely out of place. “Amber Leaf Prism” puts him in a solo context (albeit with overdubs) and he makes a convincing statement, while his interaction with some chirping electronics on “Almond” is lovely, spinning music out of seemingly random events. Richard Cochrane