[midlife 150] #119: archive “londinium”
July 18, 2010
#119 Londinium by Archive, taken from Londinium, 1996 [buy from Amazon.co.uk]
Trip hop is one of those genres that largely failed to survive its arrival in the mainstream, its unequal merger with pop. Most of the groups that followed in the wake of defining acts Massive Attack and Tricky in the mid-1990s were indistinguishable, blending (or, more accurately, blanding) into one long, slightly morose breakbeat. I’m talking about you Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps, Alpha, Lamb…
Originality did occasionally emerge, however. Archive‘s 1996 debut album, Londinium, added an intelligent and ambitious musicality to the genre template, making it one of the 1990s’ most successful (in artistic terms) pop records. A collective of musicians centred around Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths, Archive’s career since has meandered somewhat with irregular flashes of genius for the most part buried by undisciplined shifts in creative direction.
Londinium‘s title track epitomises the album’s aforementioned ambition. It is not so much song as a suite, as though showcasing fragments of an epic but imaginary (hip-h)opera about the meaning of London, past and present. Its three distinct movements seem to describe a cycle of creation, reflection and destruction respectively, giving Londinium a universality beyond its city walls.
This review is part of close to 94 ‘s [midlife 150] series, which counts down favourite music 1970-2009.