Review: “The False Foundation” by Archive

Is it out yet? Archive's

Is it out yet? Archive’s “False Foundation” album will be released on the 7th of October. Three songs were released as teaser pre-release, including the song of the same name as the album, “The False Foundation,” which took a unique twist on the usual Archive sound.

David Misyura, Reporter

“Archive” is a music collective based in London, Britain, with all of its individual talents contributing to create the unique music that the collective is known for. The group has had great success throughout Europe, reaching and maintaining the top spot on French charts for a whole week with their “Controlling Crowds I-III” album, for example, while they’ve (ironically) had little success in Britain. Their music has taken on more of a psychedelic and progressive style since their albums with a former lead singer of theirs, Craig Walker, in which their style was more of an electronica and trip hop style. Their style has remained constant, however, in that it is generally slow paced, moody or dark, and tend to gradually build up in the energy of the songs.

Fast forward to 2016, and it’s been more than a year since Archive’s last album, “Restriction,” was released on the 12th of January, 2015, so a new album would be helpful in reinvigorating their fans’ interest. The group’s newest album, “The False Foundation,” is set to be released on October 7, 2016. It is thus important to think of this review as more of a “pre-release” preview than of one done after the release of the new album. This is to emphasize the subjectiveness and hype a fan, such as myself, may experience when anticipating new content from a band or artist they enjoy. Music is an overall experience, so it is not just the actual music quality that drives the music experience. For a fan anticipating something like a new album, there is that inherent subjectiveness that comes along with the hype felt, but it’s still important to mention because it includes the parts of analysis that many critiques often overlook. Although it is for good reason; to keep subjectiveness out of an objective review; it leaves the value of an individual’s feelings out of the review, and loses the inherently human perspective of experiencing entertainment, such as music. That being said, while the perspective of a fan of Archive will be included, it will only complement the objective analysis of the featured song, and even then only minutely.

Moving on, the track of choice from the limited selection of only three leaked songs pre-release of the new album will be “The False Foundation,” which bears the name of the album itself. Keep in mind that this was posted on the group’s Soundcloud account only 9 days away from the album’s release (https://soundcloud.com/archiveofficial/the-false-foundation), and with a little more than 2000 views, the track has had quite a muted premiere. This might indicate that those who have listened to it pre-release are those that are eagerly anticipating the new album. For myself, I’ve regularly sought out any news about “The False Foundation” album since the beginning of the summer, so finding the track of the same name on Archive’s Soundcloud account was an incredible shock of awe and surprise, to say the least.

“The False Foundation” is a unique track for the reason that it’s broken territory previously left uncharted by the group. It immediately begins with manic beats reminiscent of old retro video games, which is peculiar because a good chunk of Archive’s songs gradually build up in excitement and complexity as the song continues, not to mention that they’ve never done a retro sound before. Moreover, none of their songs have had such high BPMs either, with the song sounding like a manic craze of synthesized beats and altered vocals. The track had already won me over at that point, but there’s more. The altered vocals fit the retro sound of the song very well, and can be best described as the rhythmic warnings of someone describing a figure known as “the king of the False Foundation.” On the question of who or what the “False Foundation” is, founding member Darius Keeler has stated for cultureaddicts.com that “[p]eople are going to read in to who or what ‘The False Foundation’ is, I guess, but they’re going to have to draw their own conclusions. I have my own take on it, let’s just say there are a lot of potential candidates out their in the world today.” The question of who the “king” is also remains unanswered, but it could be said that it’s not necessary to know to fully experience the song.

The track continues the tradition of harrowing and rather unnerving lyrics, with phrases like “Closed inside and shut in your mind, nothing can wake you from the poison” being singed about in a quick pace to match the rapid tempo of the beats. This adds to the energy output by the song, which Archive’s songs aren’t generally known for having. Archive’s songs are mostly slow and steady with a gradual buildup, but there are of course exceptions. It is for this reason that this particular track is a unique one from the music collective, and is especially why I look forward to hearing the rest of the album upon its release. This is certainly assuring, because when the song “Driving in Nails” was released as a teaser for the album back sometime June, I was highly disappointed with the repetitive instrumental aspect of the song that overtook the short segment of yet even more repetitive vocals. I was crushed.

But when another song from the album, “Bright Lights,” was released a month ago in September (as of the time of writing) to further tease the fans, my hopes were quickly revitalized. The song was slow, melodious, and had the involved vocals I was looking for in an Archive song. The moody lyrics were present, and it was overall a blast to listen on repeat. I was then reminded of the fact that the group’s new album was releasing relatively soon, so I was on the look out for any more news. Then came the fortunate night I found “The False Foundation” on Soundcloud, and I became frantic to hear the rest of the album. It is for this reason and the manic tempo of the song that I regard it very highly, and would recommend listening to it and the rest of “The False Foundation” album by Archive upon its release on October 7.