Das Rad is a relatively new project by the busy Martin Archer, which you can find on these pages because of his solo works, but also as the maker of the Engine Room Favorites, Story Tellers, Inclusion Principle, Transient v Resident, Juxtavoices and especially the Orchestra of knows the Upper Atmosphere. A few years ago, this formed a trio with guitarist Nick Robinson and Steve Dinsdale (radio massacre international and Archer’s bandmate with the Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere), with the goal of creating progressive instrumental rock music (quote: ‘driving motorik music’), which at the same time should contain free improvised and more complex composed. After being sporadically live for a while, the trio released their debut album on Archer’s Discus label in November 2018.
A colorful and multi-layered instrumental prog can be found on “Das Rad”, with occasional herb-dry, Canterbury-like and Crimsonesk-frippy reminiscences. The band, which probably started as a guitar-sax-drum trio, uses a very extensive range of instruments here. Electronically amplified and acoustic guitars, all kinds of wind instruments, drums and percussion, and various electronic sounds, keyboard sounds and effects devices mainly produce the music. The result is a mixture of punchy, modern prog driven by Dinsdale’s drums, freer electronic sound crafting, jazz rock, extensive retro ingredients and a little experimental avant-garde (avant prog).
A bit of cabbage rock à la new! and Harmonia, or related motor-repetitive rhythm patterns, a pinch of Canterbury, especially minimalist e-piano patterns in the spirit of Soft Machine (you can hear “Canterbury Steps”) or corresponding sax or flute lines, a few mellotron-like patterns, a good shot more recent King Crimson, Stickprog and Frippsche soundscapes – the retro ingredients – are mixed here with jazzy sax lines, sonorous flute inlays (including the recorder), all sorts of reverberant and resounding guitar excesses, dense braids of electronics, chamber-progressive reed horns, sonorous key tapes, and countless humming sounds, key sounds beeping, growling, whirring and whining instrumental ornaments. Sometimes very rhythmically, sometimes formlessly floating, this music glides along, sonorous and voluminous, sometimes very powerful and dynamic, but often also playfully meandering or hypnotically-cosmically wavering (you can hear the closing “London Steps”).
“The wheel” offers a very colorful, retro-modern program with a lot of reverberation and atmosphere, which should be very popular with progers who appreciate the angular instrumental programs with strong electronic components and jazzy impurities.
The wheel. The wheel? How does a British band get such a name? Including partly German titles? In any case, such a British trio called the busy Martin Archer, who was already delighted to hear with Combat Astronomy and Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere, and is also active in several other projects. The wheel is another one that has been active since 2016 and released its first album in autumn 2018. In addition to Martin Archer, who mainly contributes various woodwind instruments, drummer Steve Dinsdale (also a member of the aforementioned Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere and electronics technician Radio Massacre International) and guitarist Nick Robinson are among them.
The musical goal of the trio is described on its homepage as “exploring a ‘motorik’ vein ”, and that is a good thing. The rhythm is actually often straightforward and straightforward, driving the music stoically. There are all sorts of escapades for brass and guitar, supplemented by some electronic sounds. Often you go into jazz-rocky areas, occasionally with a slight Canterbury influence, in addition there are influences from the newer King Crimson (very nice, for example, in Tenser) and now and then some electronic herb rock. The latter can dominate in phases and dissolve the music into largely free, cosmic, wavering sounds; not jiggling comfortably, as is so often the case with the old herb dryers, but also here with rough edges.
Nevertheless, the music never seems too unapproachable, despite some excursions into avant-garde worlds of sound it remains mostly relatively “catchy” (which pronounced melodic freaks might judge differently). The original and virtuoso instrumental prog of Das Rad (von dem Rad? Vom Rad?) Is strongly recommended to jazz and brass-savvy listeners. Incidentally, the logo on the CD is original, too, that of the insert