ARCHIE THE GOLDFISH - Hidden Depths
Graeme Flowers - trumpet and flugelhorn; Chris Bestwick - guitars and programming. Bass on tracks 1,2,3; Bob Wijnen - keyboards; Steve Maud - bass on tracks 4 and 5
Trumpet player Graeme Flowers has played with various bands and collaborators including Clement Regert’s Wildcard, Hexagonal, Tim Rose, Gregory Porter, Paul Weller and Kyle Eastwood among others as well as recording and writing music for three Clint Eastwood films. Guitar player Chris Bestwick lives in Helsinki and before that played the London scene for several years. He has performed at Womad, Pory Jazz festival in Finland, where he worked with Graeme (and also met his wife). He now leads projects in Helsink , Prishtina and The Hague.
The pair decided to create Archie The Goldfish, and Archie has released an EP called 'Hidden Depths' which is, according to them, ' the result of a conscious decision to try to break down the boundaries between improvised music and the wider audience it often fails to reach by focusing on clearly expressing their musical feelings in short, melodic pieces, which work together as a coherent whole'.
Already Archie The Goldfish has signed to US label Ropeadope and this EP was recorded in Helsinki, London and The Hague during lockdown earlier this year. the artwork for the album was created by Alban Low who created artwork for albums including the wonderful Finding Home by Georgia Mancio, Chris rand's 'Gathering' and EYOT 557799 ( Ropeadope 2020).
the opening track on the EP, 'Goldfish Memories' is a lovely, flowing piece with easy-on-the-ears introduction, a superb trumpet entry, which works its way across, over and all ways around the melody, creating a track which is intriguing, inventive and deliciously smooth. The bass work can be clearly heard and is complex under the non-invasive trumpet soaring over the top. ' Drop The Rope' is intriguing because of the counter rhythms in the accompaniment and the trumpet parts, with the held back skipped beat engaging the ears almost as much as the beautifully adept trumpet at the start of the track. The trumpet in lower tones , at times verges into trombone-like swells which sound as difficult as they are to master. The middle section sees the rhythms come together and trumpet and bass swapping sound bites , with the trumpet meandering gently over the top , almost wildly speaking its voice at intervals and at other times adding spirited, cheeky wah wahs but always coming back to the evocative melody.
'Ready To Go' is gentle, with rhythmic changes, a few challenging to and fros but overall a harmonic delight , tempered as ever with some explorative trumpet lines which rise and fall away , with corresponding reactions from the bass and keyboard. ' Some More Heroes' is announced by the trumpet call from Flowers and then there is a spaghetti western feel and a slight heaviness to the bass line, this being a different player and all. There is a steely guitar display around the half way mark , adding to the atmosphere of a western and the trumpet entry with all dropping away adds a sense of lonesome landscape. The track ends a little too soon is the only drawback.
The final track 'I can't marry Archie' is smoothly laid out, sensuous and holds gorgeous surprise within its delicate folds as the trumpet sighs, mutes and releases with the melody. The final two minutes are an audio delight.
The album is a mx of jazz, funk, and a touch of modern fusion, with some twists and turns delivered by each musician and the fact Archie The Goldfish managed to pull everything together from different countries is to be commended.
Considering the memory of a goldfish is supposed to be short, a re-think maybe needed beacause a listen to this music and you will remember it.
Reviewed by Sammy Stein