DR1 review

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The name of the band points to the German roots of the music here.  As well, of course, as being an acronym of the band members, ‘das rad’ means ‘the wheel’, and so there is a many-layered set of puns at play in naming the band and its approach to making music.  In several of the tunes here, they take the motorik rhythms of classic German rock bands on the ‘70s, merge these with basslines that come from the North of England in the ‘80s and mash this up with a very contemporary take on jazz-rock.    This makes for a very accessible and engaging set of pieces that ought to find a wide across audiences of all manner of genres.

Three tunes (‘Canterbury steps’, track 3, ‘Porto steps’, track 8 and ‘London steps’, track 12) work a different vibe, with loops, backbeats and electronic experimentation under subtle lyricism. All of this, within the improvisatory frameworks that characterise Discus releases and Archer’s approach to making music.  More than this, though; the liner notes point out that the trio set out to make a ‘European record by European musicians…our own small protest against the political and social insanity which coincides with the release of this work’.

What is so intriguing about the music here is the way that (as Archer so often does) it takes a set of musical styles, immerses itself in their history and then invents an entirely new direction that these styles could have taken.  There is an odd sense that you are listening to music recorded at some point in the 70s, or 80s, or 90s but equally something that is entirely contemporary.

Chris Baber

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Nick Robinson

One of England’s only professional origami artists, with 75 books on the subject to his name. His early musical career included Typhoon Saturday, (who spawned chart-toppers “Living in a Box”)  who had a deal with Polydor and released 3 singles to minimal success. 

Another band was Dig Vis Drill. Those that saw them in the early 80’s felt this band were destined for greatness. They had a unique and awesome sound, a live act second to none, they were confrontational, challenging, intelligent and fronted by motor-mouth Ogy McGrath, a cross between Woody Allen and Attila the Hun.

From the mid 80s, Robinson began to explore improvised music (supporting Archer’s band “Bass Tone Trap” at a local gig). His path led to his current main activity performing and recording solo, looped guitar soundscapes. Prog legends Haze gave him lots of support gigs & subseqently invitied him to contribute a solo(!)  track for one of their albums.  He produced and played on 4 albums by the loose improv collective Meson. He contributed guitar to an album by Canadian maestro Chris Meloche. He has contributed several tracks to Chain Tape Collective projects. He provided guitar & loops for an album with another Archer project called Combat Astronomy. He  also performs with Herve Perez working under the banner of “String Theology”.  He had a CD released by the “Lost Garden” duo with former Comsat Angel Andy Peake. Other local collaborators include John Jasnoch, Howlaround & Charlie Collins.

His website has extensive information, audio, video, a discography and a blog covering midi, ableton and live looping amongst other topics.

Robinson and Archer had played a variety of gigs together in different formations so when Martin suggested bringing drummer Steve Dinsdale into the mix, Das Rad was born.

Steve Dinsdale

Drummer/Keyboardist cut his teeth on the Teesside and Sheffield music scenes  before moving to London in the late 80’s. Drummed with Honey Smugglers who recorded indie-classic single `Listen’ in 1990, and who are still asked regularly to appear on period compilations.

Joined T.V. Eye alongside ex-members of Eat and future celebrity-botherer and `Game Of Thrones’ star Paul Kaye. Gave up dreams of stardom after returning from holiday to find that said singer had gone off to live on a Kibbutz, and the guitarist was suddenly number one in the charts with a record he’d arranged for an unknown female singer with an eye patch.

Formed electronic improvising trio Radio Massacre International playing keyboards, electronics and drums with oldest friends and collaborators Duncan Goddard and Gary Houghton, who over a 25-year career have played dozens of concerts in the UK, Europe and USA as well as appearing on an MTV Europe co-host. The discography currently stands at some 60 or more releases including a trio of albums for acclaimed US label Cuneiform, and five solo albums made over the last ten years.

Performed as Drummer and/or Floor Percussionist with the Damo Suzuki Network on some half dozen occasions, one of which has led to a number of collaborations with Martin Archer including Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere which was founded in 2009 and has since made four albums, and Engine Room Favourites the 10-piece Jazz ensemble.

And now…Das Rad.

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