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Thread: FEATURED ALBUM: Archive - Controlling Crowds

  1. #1
    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    FEATURED ALBUM: Archive - Controlling Crowds

    This album is one of my favorites from the last 10 years. I was turned onto this band just before this album was released. In their earliest days, they were a bit more in the "trip hop" vein a la Massive Attack. They then went into a heavy Pink Floyd route, not too dissimilar to PTree. Later they incorporated a lot more electronics and Radiohead style moves into their music. Controlling Crowds is sort of a culmination of their work, with a mixture of various styles and vocalists. They have a decent following across Europe, but are largely unknown in the U.S., and not very popular in the progger's realm.



    Review from ProgArchives
    I always wonder why Archive is not better known in North America like they are elsewhere. The music is a straightforward lite prog with a very accessible sound, a lot of pop and rock sensibilities and a lot of originality. Most of the music is slow to medium tempo. There are several vocalists and all of them with nice voices and one rapper that appears every so often. Their music is beautiful, even as beautiful as the best Pink Floyd tracks. They have everything going for them, except North America has not discovered them yet.

    So, their roots are in trip-hop and you can hear a lot of that still in their music. But this is excellent quality music. I've used the term beautiful to describe their music and that term is the best way to describe this album. It is true that there is a lot of keyboards and programming on this album and in most of their music. There can be some repetition, and on some albums, it does go overboard from time to time, but not here. Everything works together beautifully, even the 3 tracks with rapping, because it is appropriate for the music. There is a lot of variety in the vocals and that really works well with this kind of music. It also works well with the concept on this album.

    The album is divided into 3 sections. Part 1 takes up the first 5 tracks, Part II the middle 5 tracks and Part III the last 3 tracks. The atmosphere is mostly airy with a lot of build up in many of the songs. There is an amazing use of dynamics which helps to keep the few repetitive parts interesting, but repetition is done very well throughout the album and it is mostly kept to a minimum which is a huge plus on this album. I said previously that this is lite progressive, so don't expect a lot of groundbreaking sounds and sophisticated meter changes. The beauty here is in the simplicity of the music. There is an orchestra playing in most of the tracks and the arrangements are tastefully done and only work to make the music more poignant and lovely.

    I know a lot of people probably get turned off by the trip-hop label attached to this band, but they do it all so well and it never gets old on this album. Most of the trip-hop is carried over in the instruments than the vocals. But even the tracks that feature rapping are not hard to enjoy, they add to the variety and the instrumentals in them remain as beautiful as on the other tracks. At over 70 minutes, you also get your money's worth in music quantity and of course the quality is definitely worth the time and money you invest in this music.

    Originally, there was going to be a Part IV included in this CD package, but it was decided to release that on a separate album since it is a much longer section. The next album that was released is Part IV. Instead of releasing Part IV with this package, they released a 2nd disc that has four more songs that only work to add more enjoyment to the songs on the main disc. There is also a video to the track "Bullets" on the disc.

    Anyway, I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for a well done emotional and dynamic album and Part IV is also highly recommended. My own personal rating for this is 5 stars, but the lite use of Prog on this means the ProgArchive rating is 4 stars. It definitely is an excellent addition to any music collection and those people who like an accessible lite prog with a great collection of beautifully written songs need to check this album out, or at least check out the band. I know that when I play this music for other people that they always are pleased with it. Definitely better than anything by another lite prog group called the Alan Parsons Project and more complex than that. And that's from a person that enjoys APP especially the earlier years. Again, highly recommended. -TCat




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  2. #2
    Worthy of Laudation thedunno's Avatar
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    I liked it when it came out but for me the novelty has worn off. Haven't played it in years and do not really feel the need to.

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    LOVE this album. need to revisit soon. part IV (companion album) is good as well.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I liked it when it came out but for me the novelty has worn off. Haven't played it in years and do not really feel the need to.
    My sentiment exactly. Like many a post-rock/avant/indie-styled concoction, Archive's formula rests on a certain trick of traits with too much immediate effect to endure over time, so the fascination eventually wears off. I've experienced that with dozens of acts from their generation. This being said, there's a lot to commend about Archive, not least the "narrative finesse" of their lyrics and the sense in which its drama carries through in the music itself. For an even more refined take on this, check Danish cult heroes Under Byen.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    My sentiment exactly. Like many a post-rock/avant/indie-styled concoction, Archive's formula rests on a certain trick of traits with too much immediate effect to endure over time, so the fascination eventually wears off. I've experienced that with dozens of acts from their generation. This being said, there's a lot to commend about Archive, not least the "narrative finesse" of their lyrics and the sense in which its drama carries through in the music itself. For an even more refined take on this, check Danish cult heroes Under Byen.
    I would agree that there is a method or formula to their madness, but in most respects they are not creating the same album over and over which is the pitfall many of their brethren succumb to. For me the immediate effect was part of the attraction (interesting way to perceive it). It hits many of the right buttons for me in terms of atmosphere, use of keyboards/electronics, etc. And the variety in their catalog keeps me coming back.

    I'm going to check out Under Byen.
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  6. #6
    Along with its companion disk, the best Archive release to my ears, though haven't listened to it 2-3 years after the initial release date. I agree with Richard on its conclusions, some of their albums (The Noise or You All Look The Same To Me f.e.) had an immediate effect that wore-off as time passed by. Someday I will fill-up a "for sale" bin with such stuff and rip the CDs on a hard disk for an occasional revisit. Not to say that the full availavility of all such stuff on You Tube killed the need to own the physical product for something that lost most of its initial attraction.
    Macht das ohr auf!

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  7. #7
    Archive have a special place in my musical heart, that in fact started with their second album Take My Head.
    Controlling Crowds became even more strong when they played it live, like on their wonderful DVD Live At Athens.
    It's like Art Of Noise meeting Pink Floyd at times.


  8. #8
    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    I pretty much expected a lean response to this, but it’s a shame because it’s one of those few groups I think would have a fair amount of crossover appeal.
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    Member ombasan's Avatar
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    I generally like Archive since their debut album.
    Controlling Crowds is ok with me, but not among their best efforts. These IMO are You all look the same to me, Lights, The Michel Vaillant albums. Axiom was also very special with the videos!

    I'm not familiar with all of their stuff and just saw they released something in 2016, which I should check out! (The false foundation)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    it’s one of those few groups I think would have a fair amount of crossover appeal.
    I sincerely concur, but there's a general feeling nowadays that maybe most 'candidates' expressing crossover interest aren't too much around. Which is problematically disconcerting, IMHO.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #11
    Member mnprogger's Avatar
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    great record, and probably my 2nd favorite behind You All Look the Same to Me.

    I would love to pickup a copy on Vinyl.

  12. #12
    Bullets is amazing.

    Lost interest in the rest.

  13. #13
    Member FredOCal's Avatar
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    I love trip hop so this is an obvious one for me. I'll check out the other band mentioned as well.

  14. #14
    Poisoned, nice summary and agree they are one of the better crossover bands with some interesting mix of electronic sounds. Not all their tracks grab me but there are a number on regular rotation for me (eg. Come on get high and Feeling of losing everything from Controlling Crowds part IV). Lights from Lights is also special.

  15. #15
    Member mnprogger's Avatar
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    bump.

    they're releasing "25" on Friday which includes a massive boxed set and 8 unreleased tracks.

    https://archive.tmstor.es/


  16. #16
    ^^This is more or less a next step after they cancelled the Pledge-campaign for a new live-album/DVD, called Now (see: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/archive)
    This album will be added as a download only to the boxset, which is of course a shame for those who pledged for the DVD first (and who will have most of the material on CD already).

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