Album Released 2007
PRESS FOR SIMPLE CITY
It came as a surprise to learn that this is only the second album from Melbourne electronic artist Matt Archer (aka Bogenschutzer). Although seemingly simple, the 12 tracks on ‘Simple City’ are refreshingly subtle, using such instruments as harmonica, ukulele and a music box alongside synthesisers and piano to create soundscapes that fit together as a whole. The fact that the album is so cohesive in sound puts it somewhere in between “journey music” like the works of Explosions In The Sky and chill-out favourites like Bent or Zero 7 - not as slow in progression as the former, but with tracks which blend together more than those of the latter. The one difficulty in summing up an album like this, then, is that like Explosions In The Sky, there are no particular tracks which stand out - just gentle peaks and troughs in the sound that ease the listener gently through the album’s 48 minutes. Certain pieces, like the title track, linger in the mind a little longer because the tracks themselves are longer and thus afford a little more time to build. Ultimately, though, this is not an album in which many of the tracks can be singled out - it works best as an overall piece, and Archer deserves praise for forging such a lovely, understated succession of sounds. Above all, ‘Simple City’ is consistent - and while it’s not necessarily the most memorable album in a world populated by countless collections of lounge music, it’s a promising sophomore release nonetheless. BRIAN O’NEILL
Intricate electronica from Melbournian one-piece.
Bogenschutzer is Melbourne’s Matt Archer, and Simple City is his second full-length release. Simple City blends warm Boards Of Canada styled synths and loops with the more organic attitude of The Books, resulting in some very pretty music. The record languidly pours out each track with rich, diverse layers of sound, but the songs feel like they actually progress rather than dwell on the same pattern or loop as most electronica tends to do. Freeway Design is a standout track, an eclectic beat driven intro makes way for wah-wah guitar and a churning, unstoppable bass-line that could push the track onto dance floors. The in and out of sync dueling of Very Serious Men and ominous synth burn of The Arrival further display Archer’s talent and the diversity of his sound, while the title track sounds like a small homage to Kid A. An excellent release that is both gorgeous and intelligent.
Despite the decidedly Germanic inflection of his alias, Bogenschutzer is in fact Australian composer Matt Archer. Coming straight outta Melbourne, Archer has produced an album of contemplative music from the sanctuary of his DesTone home studio.
Simple City is immediately impressive as Archer opens with the dreamy bass odyssey of The Arrival. The immersive quality of this track is testament to the transportative potential of atmospheric, instrumental music. This is quintessential headphone fodder, best enjoyed in dimly lit solitude where a pair of Sennheisers can magnify the spatial nature of his sparse compositions.
Under pinned by a sly hip hop break to create infectious off-kilter groove, Slow Morning is a slithering exclusion into increasingly dubby territory. The breakbeat is a recurrent reference point in Archer’s sound and is juxtaposed with his retro synths in a way might suggest a distant influence of the preeminent Boards of Canada. Archer is no imitator though, and has carved an intriguing niche with his sound.
Bogenschutzer maintains a consistently blissful tone with the aptly titled Another Dream. Droning guitars are set against tinkling bittersweet melodies and wonky organs from another era. Again, Archer uses a hip hop beat to propel his luscious sound, but with added flavour as a flurry of beats edits add a subtle glitch element to his palette. Superbly detailed, engrossing and most importantly, rolling.
The fourth track is the title track of the album and it contrasts with the remainder of material by virtue of being almost twice the duration of Archer’s concise compositions. Pulsating melodies create a warm bed of sound for two minutes before even a beats drops, but when it does… oh my days. Dusty, distant drum breaks again reference the hip hop aesthetic but in a manner removed from the braggadocio and bombast of New York’s most famous musical export. Archer’s innate sense of restraint again reveals itself as he builds tension before a bassline makes its mammoth presence felt four minutes into the track. Simple City is a potent mix of hip hop, dub and electronica that entrances the listener for its full duration.
Strangely, Archer veers into a chintzy retro space lounge stylee with the quasi-funk of Short Ride. After the superbly atmospheric pieces that precede it, this track feels oddly unsophisticated by comparison. The remainder of Simple City fails to reach the lofty heights of its opening gambit as Archer wallows in noodly, emotive sketches that frequently verge on tweeness. Melodies tinkle and shimmer with glacial majesty, but the rolling bass which propelled the first half of the album is sorely missed. When he does up the pace with the throbbing synth funk of Freeway Design, Archer doesn’t appear quite as convincing as when he creates his more introspective moments.
Simple City is anything but simple as Bogenschutzer’s assured approach to composition ensures that each piece is imbued with nuance for the listener to gradually unravel. However his evidently academic sense of musicianship frequently overrides his sense of groove, much to the detriment of this album. Thankfully the first four tracks of this album succeed in being fantastically atmospheric and grooving, that his penchant for occasional navel gazing can be forgiven.
Reaching into the grab bag of CD’s that Pietro (Managing Editor) has arranged for me, my hands bring out a delightful looking disc, its cover appearing to be the Lego city my six-year-old self never quite got around to creating. Against a sky of gray with white clouds (that’s a winter sky, I’ll say), the colourful spires of childhood ambition reach as high as they can, looking as much like a city as the works of Sean Kenny can. Opening the cover to see the full piece, the cityscape tapers off into green hills and a pale blue river, evoking both the urban and the pastoral. Placing the CD gently into the tray (for we must treat any reminder of our innocent childhoods as sacred), Simple City starts up and charms the pants off me (not literally) from note one. Over twelve tracks, Melbourne’s Matt Archer, using acoustic and electronic elements, arranges simple (but not simplistic) songs, each one a joy of melody and percussion. You can sway to it sitting in a chair. You can write code to it. You could maybe dance to it, if your dance style is that weird shake that Edie Brickell did in the 90s. And maybe, if you sit still and let it flow over you, you can hear what music sounded like when you were very young. Wonderful.
There’s something a little bit old-fashioned about Simple City, the second album from Bogenschutzer (Melbourne-based electronic composer Matt Archer), but the observation shouldn’t be interpreted as a negative critique. Created from electronic and acoustic instruments, the album is a thoroughly well-crafted suite of twelve seamlessly-connected songs. Anything but abrasive, the music flows serenely and, though programmatic titles suggest a journey of sorts betwixt countryside and city, the listener can enjoy the music just as much in the absence of titles. Ambient episodes (“The Arrival”) and lullabies (the Lullatone-like “Little Fruits”) rub shoulders with propulsive (“Another Dream”) and stately settings (“Plucked,” the melancholy “Granted” with its harpsichord accents), with much of it informed by an atmospheric, dub-inflected production style that’s as bright as the album’s cover illustration. Brimming with glockenspiel, guitar, and keyboard melodies, Archer’s material is rich and evocative in detail. Beats rumble through numerous songs too (hip-hop in “Simple City,” a jazz-hip-hop fusion in “Short Ride,” electro-funk spiked by chicken-scratch guitar in “Freeway Design”) but never so aggressively that they overwhelm the material’s compositional focus.
It’s hard to pinpoint Bogenschutzer’s style, but whatever it is, it makes me fell very Zen. Following on from his 2005 self-titled debut release, Bogenschutzer’s second album Simple City is an adventurous compilation of 12 instrumental and electronic works, each sweeping you into its own journey into the mind. Simple City is the soundtrack to an elusive summer dream. It’s music for massage therapy and island retreats. Ranging from jazz and funk to oriental influences, the record coasts through varying musical landscapes, some tracks bringing forth strange innovative sounds, and some that strike at familiarity and warming memories. Tracks sway from the eerily orchestral Slow Morning to jived up jungle rhythms (Freeway Design), often in blink-and-miss, seemless transitions. The Creek starts off as a sad lullaby, before embarking on a voyage of lost hope and innocence, while Granted flows from futuristic to a tribal, blending electronic and xylophonic melodies. Composed in his home studio using an extensive collection computers, keyboards, and toy instruments, Bogenschutzer (aka Matt Arhcer) isn’t afraid to overlay foreign genres to create an imaginative musical cocktail. There’s something inexplicable and magical about this album that can only be clarified by listening to it.
Serene, abstract, pulsating even quirky are a few words that come to mind when describing the second recording from Melbourne composer Matt Archer aka. Bogenschutzer. From the opening track The Arrival, a beautiful ambient work with a wonderful bassline, he never lets the music just roll along, there is always something happening, and on each subsequent listening you will constantly discover new sounds. For this reviewer I heard elements of rock music (Freeway Design and Plucked) and a kind of electronic folk music (Very Serious Men and Little Fruits) but I don’t really want to single out any particular tracks as every track has something to offer. A work of great imagination. Highly recommended.
Simple City, the second album from Melbourne composer Bogenschutzer (aka Matt Archer), is a laid-back reflection of every wonder that the world of electronic music offers.
The 12 instrumental tracks melt seamlessly into one another, taking their listener on a journey through the electronic wonderland of chilled beats (‘Freeway Design’) and unfolding melodies (‘Schluss’). The songs are always building, pioneering their way along and allowing new sounds to evolve using pace and progression. The delicate plucking and piano that stream from his fingertips (‘The Creek’, ‘Very Serious Men’) complement the abstract rhythms of ‘Freeway Design’ and ‘Another Dream’. Archer has managed to harmoniously marry electronic beats with acoustic instruments and has served a mix of funk, impulse and fucking good music at the wedding.
Music for America
Tranquil electronic music, this is what I would call the sounds of Simple City by an artist who calls himself Bogenschutzer.
Some people may hear this and compare him to Boards Of Canada and Tortoise, but I would also compare him to the lighter moments of Jazzanova and even Supersilent. Every song has something to say, even though they’re all instrumentals. It’s similar to waking up for a dream, but realizing that your world is now animated, and now you have to find the right music to match those mental visuals. This would be that album, where you have these well-thought out soundscapes mixed in with a bit of depth, showing that the sounds are anything but random. Some of it sounds cartoonish, while other times it may be something bordering on the edge of synth and keyboard craziness without being forced. There are moments on the CD where the sound does push itself to the limit, only for the other sounds to pull it back to shore.
The rhythms and beats are light, and the surrounding sounds are a mixture of computerized synth sequencers and whatever else Bogenschutzer can find within the vicinity, everything from a ‘ukulele to a recorder, and what does make it on the CD sounds nothing like what it’s supposed to be. Give it a serious listen, and you’ll find the sound textures in this city are anything but simple.
Australia: Radio National - Sound Quality, Triple J - Soundlab, Triple R, PBS fm, RTR fm, SYN Radio, fBI radio Sydney, 2SER Sydney, Edge Radio 99.3
Germany: Radio eins - Late Night Lounge, Elektro Beats, Ocean Club