This is a review of "Able Archer" recorded by i concur. The review was written by Kate Zezulka in 2009.
In many ways, I Concur have been ready to release this album for quite some time. A large proportion of the songs on 'Able Archer' have been happily settled in their repertoire and have nestled together within an increasingly assured and engaging live show. Logic would almost dictate that such a long gestation period for the album would diminish its final effect, with both players and listeners becoming too comfortable with the material.
But, this careful thoughtfulness and attention to detail really lend 'Able Archer' depth and a bold, decisive pithiness (something only enhanced by James Kenosha's intelligent and insightful production). I Concur's Aesops-ian fables and imagery-rich parables have evolved gradually, with minor but considered modifications to delivery and word setting. Musically, too, this process of refinement adds to 'Able Archer's concise and precisely-aimed punch. Hann and Woolford's guitar work is always well-placed and their very texturally-oriented playing styles really come into their own with brilliantly realised dynamic peaks and saturated troughs. And when bass and kit emerge from the texture, contributions come across as more than a simple token gesture of change in the foreground, or a little diversion or showcase for drummer Brunger or bassist Page: they provide colour and feel variation and a succinct way of communicating mood through registral and timbral difference (although they do also show the 'rhythm' section to be on more than top form, with some well-shaped phrasing from both.)
Some of the more unlikely crowning glories of the album are the segues between tracks. Not only do these create a sense of pace and purpose, but the album's thematic connections - subordination and control are common threads - seem reinforced by the stream of notes merging each song. Another striking side effect of this is the tonal relationships established between tracks, particularly where breaks away from the expected harmonic trajectory provide some stylishly-positioned surprises.
So the I Concur method works - it's not a slow-motion effort of output painstakingly fussed over, but a measured approach which pulls the very best out of already worthy material. It's great to see the debut I Concur album with the consideration and finishings it deserves.