A profound thoughtfulness permeates across most of The False Foundation, the latest album by electronic symphony Archive. At times, this atmosphere takes on a stark, even sad quality. Other times, it is introspective, contemplative, or even euphoric. The False Foundation, as such, exemplifies what Archive have been doing for over two decades – challenging our perceptions about music, life, and the world around us.

The album is an emotional roller coaster and an engrossing thought experiment, which begins with the stark and methodical, “Blue Faces”. As Darius Keeler’s delicate vocals and the slight notes from a piano are played for nearly six minutes, this beautiful song is a test in patience, which reflects the track’s storyline of a couple on the brink. The two searing, electronic numbers – the Trent Reznor-esque “Driving in Nails” and the Massive Attack-like “Splinters” – force us to look in- and outwardly about the forces that drive and govern us. The production work on both songs are stellar.

There are emotional releases in The False Foundation. The hypnotic “The Pull Out” is a cinematic masterpiece that escalates and then suspends in time before taking off once again. It is a song that calls out for us to let go. On the title track, the stuttering beats and uptempo pace echo The Phoenix Foundation, creating a mesmerizing, dance number. This song similarly is a critique about the puppet masters and those willing to be the marionettes. “Stay Tribal” further accelerates the pace, but Archive continue their onslaught on the commercialism and materialism.

Not every song, however, blasts the world we live in. The closer, “The Weight Of The World”, provides a positive outlook on things when we are allowed to live freely. The song itself is partly a jitterbug tune and another part of a trance-like, electronic number. The song showcases the multiple sides of the band – the orchestra, the pop band, and the electrifying electronic orchestra. It’s a pretty tantalizing number.

The album’s highlight, though, is its centerpiece. “Bright Lights” is absolutely breathtaking. The hallow and stark vibe perfectly complement this song that is simultaneously introspective and a reflection about the influence of someone close to hear. The arrangements and instrumentation are minimalist yet bold, slight yet stunning. The song highlights the brilliance of Archive, and their influence on many artists past and present. Intelligent, thoughtful, cinematic, and beautiful. The words are not only about “Bright Lights”, but also about this great collective of musicians who continue to amaze us.

The current composition of Archive includes Darius Keeler, Danny Griffiths, Pollard Berrier, Rosko John, Dave Pen, Maria Q, Smiley, Steve Harris, Steve Davis, Jonathan Noyce, Holly Martin, and Mickey Hurcombe.

The False Foundation arrives next Friday, October 7th via Dangervisit and Play It Again Sam. Pre-order it here.

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