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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.

Achim Breiling 

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

Jochen Rindfrey

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Jon Short

Starting with proto jazz-rockers March the Third and playing cello on a Pulp single, Jon Joined Nick in the 80s for a promising outfit called “Harriet”, with a singer who later wrote for Tina Turner and won awards. 

Sadly it fell through and Jon formed Deep Sky Divers, a feted ambient duo. 

Chosen by Das Rd not only for his consummate playing but also because his surname matched a letter from the band acronym!

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Nick Robinson

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. 

You can check out his discography on his site, along with extensive information, audio, video and a blog covering midi, ableton and live looping amongst other topics. You can find more of his music on his Bandcamp page and his solo CD was released by Discus Music in 2022, attracting rave reviews from Adrian Belew, Steve Hackett and others.

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, later to be augmented by his old musical sparring partner Jon on bass.

Nick is one of England’s only professional origami artists, with over 100 books on the subject to his name.

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.