Latest Discus Music release is Das Rad’s self-titled album (DISCUS 75CD) …this trio of players is Martin Archer plus guitarist Nick Robinson and drummer Steve Dinsdale, and they started it a couple of years ago just as a way they could have fun playing what they call “motorik music”. Drummer Dinsale has appeared on previous Archer projects, but guitarist Robinson is new to me. The plan is to sometimes work with arrangements and give themselves the discipline of a framework, while still hewing true to that spirit of free playing and improvising they love so well. Archer contributes woodwinds, but also keyboards and electronics, and though the nucleus of the band could be called a sax-guitar-drums thing, there’s evidently plenty of scope to lushen up the arrangements into something pretty fruity.
This is one of the more enjoyable Discus items we’ve heard for a while – pretty much in the mode of open-ended electronic rock music not far apart from some of your favourite krautrock and prog records – and sometimes edging into the same sort of fusion-ish territory as Gary Boyle, Association P.C., or Arte e Mestieri. Even the disk artwork is designed to resemble the famed Harvest label of the 1970s, home to everyone from Kevin Ayers to Quatermass. While sometimes this very melodic and accessible music may start to feel a little cloying and sweet if heard for long periods, the musicianship is exceptional, and it’s clear that all players are not just enjoying themselves but fulfilling a deep-seated need to make this kind of music. As ever with Archer records lately though, I find there’s just so much of it; the material could have been edited down to LP length to produce a much punchier result. But Archer’s generosity of spirit cannot be contained, and we all benefit from this largesse.
The track titles all have European references and themes, and this is intended as a protest against the “political and social insanity” that is Brexit. “We think of this as a European record by European musicians,” states Archer firmly. Music like this is the perfect riposte to narrow-mindedness and to those who would deprive us of freedom of thought; it’s a melodic advert for freedom.