It’s unlikely you will have heard of the band Archive or be able to hum any of the songs from their 12-album back catalogue produced since they formed in 1994.
Equally you probably won’t be aware of the latest album, Call to Arms & Angels, due for release on April 9 by the south London collective – but frankly that’s OK with them.
For Bishop’s Stortford musician Dean Austin, the making of the album offered him a chance to get under the skin of the band, who have become a big name in France while remaining low-key in the UK.
After getting to know Archive founder Darius Keeler, who moved to Stortford five years ago and frequented the Star pub in Bridge Street, Dean and fellow Stortford musician and film-maker Ben Sommers were asked to document the writing and recording of the new album, which was spawned through the trials and tribulations of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Originally the pair were asked to produce a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes intended as exclusive material for fans who pre-order the new album. But the band were so taken with the initial results that the project evolved.
Filmed throughout 2020, 2021 and 2022 on a Super 8 camera found in the attic of Darius’ childhood home – with scenes shot on the streets of Stortford as well as London, Brighton, Southampton and Wales – the film has a nostalgic atmosphere to it. “It’s proper old-school analogue, it’s very like a home-made movie,” said Dean.
Streets in Bishop’s Stortford were filmed for the documentary (55545488)
Dean and Ben are not the only Stortford stamp on the album and film project: the Super 8 soundtrack was engineered by local producer Tim Webster while guitar on the album was provided by local music scene regular Rich Panrucker.
The growth of the project has demanded a real focus on completion and has meant Dean’s latest band GiANT has been put on the back-burner.
“The episodic project was meant to culminate in a slightly longer episode. But that then evolved into a feature-length documentary and so now here we are, frantically trying to finish a proper film, just the two of us,” Dean told the Indie in late March.
The film, which gets its online premiere on Saturday (April 2), will reveal “an intimate portrayal of a band 28 years into their career, trying to write and record in some of the hardest times they, and indeed the world, have ever faced”.
Archive in RAK Studios making their new album Call To Arms & Angels (55600249)
Dean is somewhat in awe of Archive, initially billed a trip-hop band when launched in the 1990s but who seem to reinvent themselves with every album.
And to become part of the Archive ‘family’ means a lot. “They’re a very thoughtful band – they think about every aspect and they’re like a family,” said Dean.
The new album, recorded at the legendary RAK studios in London with The Rolling Stones occupying a studio next door, is in Dean’s words a “masterpiece”, adding: “It’s all about the depth and the journey.”
Archive performing in Paris
But Archive have made no efforts to cosy up to the demands of national radio play-lists. With the first single Daytime Coma – for which Dean and Ben created a lyric video – running to more than 14 minutes it will not be on the Radio 2 or Capital airwaves any time soon.
“They don’t make it easy for themselves,” said Dean. “But that’s the wonder of Archive.”
* The film’s online premiere on April 2 is on Moment House (https://www.momenthouse.com/archive) and will also feature a Q&A session with the band and an exclusive playing of the full album – the first time fans will get to hear the 17-track record, a week before its official releases. Super 8 is being sent to broadcasters and film festivals in the hope of getting wider release.
The trailer for the documentary of the making of Archive’s new album (55545486)