|8||Tower of Joined Hands||5:49|
|9||The Cartographer's Wife||5:20|
|10||Two If By Sea||6:04|
|11||Pliny The Elder||4:22|
|12||Tell Me Everything||5:24|
On a hazy, early spring afternoon in the basement of an art gallery in San Francisco, four musicians met with nothing but the goal to produce ideas. The Brooklyn trio Archie Pelago and the then San Francisco based producer Grenier had been introduced to each other’s work by proxy, and though there was an inherent synergy underlying their aesthetics, they could not have known the profound results of their union; a plaited, sweeping work, gestalt in its exploration of the dynamics between the electronic and organic.
Archie Pelago, formed by Greg Heffernan, Zach Koeber and Dan Hirshorn in 2010 and with releases for much-loved NYC club-cum-label Mister Saturday Night under their belt, spent much of 2013 making some of the most contorted, intriguing live electronic hybrids out there. Melding their on-paper incongruous arsenal of woodwind, horn, strings, turntables and digital software together, they created some of the most gorgeously smooth tipped electronica around.
After years DJing and operating in a unique space beyond dubstep, techno and club music, Dean Grenier was moving onto further plains still, injecting a more soulful take on his comparatively synthesized sounding Voids project, focusing on deep textures, playful melodies but retaining a dose of rhythmic ballast.
Combined, though, Grenier Meets Archie Pelago pushes both parties into the unknowns of their sound, bringing together the hallmarks of their recognised traits, and creating something altogether more singular still. “Working with Dean allowed all of us to feel comfortable departing from a more rigid dancefloor structure stretching everything out and letting it breathe better,” says Hirshorn. “The limitlessness was empowering.”
The record was put together out in San Francisco over one long week, and its creators admit there is something of the west coast’s warmth in its contrastive blend of glottal beats and soft-edged instrumental strains. It’s a record that you can almost jump into, swimming among the lapping current of its crystalline mix of analogue and digital sound, drawing parallels to the likes of Bonobo, The Cinematic Orchestra and even Pantha Du Prince, but never once losing it's uniqueness along the way. This hive of recording took place in 2012, but the seeds of the collaboration came about earlier than that.
“By the beginning of 2011, I'd spent the last few years of my life in the underground club music world, finding a musical home and identity and ultimately feeling disillusioned with the narrowness of the medium,” explains Grenier. The producer starting immersing himself more in the more open-ended world of jazz and was put on to Archie Pelago by friend and fellow producer Distal. “They’d done a remix of a track of his called ‘Buoyant,’ and it sounded so cool and advanced. It blew my mind,” he comments. The first time all four of them met, they started to write music together from the off.
The album recording session in San Francisco, which took place in the basement of an art gallery, saw Grenier meld the sketches and skeletons of Archie’s work together, his production work giving the record its intimate, personal feel. Each crackle and creak of instrument can be heard, almost alien on music that, like the liquid grooves and subtle drops of ‘Navigator,’ or the more hard-lined minimal ‘Phosphorent,’ felt like it had been taken off the dance floor.
Individually and as a trio, Archie Pelago are no strangers to sonic journeys; all picked up various instruments from clarinet, to trumpet, to cello and saxophone from as early as eight years old, their transgressions into electronic music coming through hip-hop or, as Dan points out “just wanting to branch out and explore other musical forms, both academic and performative.” Forming after Greg met Dan at party he was DJing in 2009, the two joined up with Zach and took off on a journey that’s already seen stylistic twists and turns together on the path to meeting Grenier.
It's a rare collaboration that results in a body of work as rich, varied, dynamic, and as simply beautiful as Grenier Meets Archie Pelago. But perhaps the most stunning element is the singular nature of their combined output. It's a work that began with a chance meeting, and culminated in utter harmony.