I have vague memories of Archive from 1996 when they released a insipid trip-hop by numbers LP titled Londinium. After that they slipped off my musical radar. I was surprised that they have been recording and releasing records since then with a revolving cast of vocalist and an ever evolving sound. They have built up a loyal following in France and Germany with their dark take on electronic pop with added mutant guitars.
On Noise they seem to have arrived at a hybrid of trip hop, alt-rock guitars and prog rock structures. Disappointingly it’s the worse excess of each genre that they have attempted to combine. The result is an overreaching, shrill, adolescent, train wreck of a record. Over half the tracks are stretched out for over six minutes, mixing trip hop’s lack of tunes with prog rock’s kitchen sink production and pointless musical u-turns.
Opening with a track titled Noise is asking for trouble. With a name like that you would expect some warped take on My Bloody Valentine‘s art rock assault or Merzbow‘s aural migraine machine music. What you get is a pedestrian indie rock track that sounds like Muse without the guitar pyrotechnics. The following Fuck U is like The Cure on steroids lacking Robert Smith’s gift for melody. The lyrics are unintentionally funny, a clumsy rant against an unnamed devil – it could be Blair or Bush or the bank manager, the fury is impotent. The blasts of guitar noise that swarm over the end of the song are about as surprising as a Cliff Richard Christmas single.
Clocking in at nearly ten minutes Wasted would try the patience of a Buddhist monk. It crawls slowly past, starting like Pink Floyd played by a school band on cheap synths before mutating into a Massive Attack meets Nine Inch Nails in a mud wrestle. It not the sublime Massive Attack of Blue Lines, but the misfiring tuneless version that produced 100th Window. Dirty big distorted drums thump underneath a dirge of guitars that are frantically trying to locate a tune.
Noise may not have sounded so awful to me if I had fallen in love with No CV by My Computer. On No CV similar influences are fused together to create an expansive, neo-psychedelic masterpiece. Where My Computer are soaring into the stratosphere Archive are earthbound.