The jazz-dance hybrid has a fair few precedents in recent times, many of them displaying only a detached interest in the floor. Comparisons might be drawn between New York trio Archie Pelago and Portico Quartet side project Circle Traps—but where the latter group joins the dots between ECM-indebted jazz and forlorn post-dubstep, Archie Pelago's influences are a little fruitier, their productions more danceable and often brimming with imaginative touches. The trio's second 12-inch, for Brighton's Well Rounded Individuals, seems to cement their recent shift towards a more straightforward house template—an effective vehicle, it turns out, for increasingly boundary-pushing experiments with harmony and structure.
"Subway Gothic" is dreamy at the opening, daubs of woodwind and cello occasionally swerving in over a galloping house beat; the tightly interwoven melodies recall Norwegian outfit Jaga Jazzist. Before long, though, we're into the kind of slippery, unstable breakdown the trio deployed on "Brown Oxford": clusters of cello notes slide queasily around, climbing to a shrill peak that's captured and looped as the beat returns. Such an unexpected foregrounding of the electronic is a risky manoeuvre, but here it's executed with ease. "Ladymarkers" is slower, its delicate shuffle hosting smoky layers of Rhodes and flute. A spindly chord progression introduced partway in gives the whole thing a sort of fusion vibe. But don't let that description alarm you: if anyone can pull it off, it's these guys.
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Tracklist: Archie Pelago - Subway Gothic / Ladymarkers A Subway Gothic