Thursday 2 November 2023

'Archiefishal Intelligence' by Archie the Goldfish

'Archiefishal Intelligence' marks the new EP release from Archie the Goldfish - the collaborative project headed up by Chris Bestwick and Graeme Flowers.

The collective's new five-track EP sees Archie & company come a long way musically over the last two years or so.  The release of their last EP, 'Water & Light' (2021), presented a series of dynamic tracks that saw their sound effortlessly embrace a wide variety of musical sounds and styles.  With luxurious nods to R&B, neo-soul and jazz, the project was bolstered by the presence of vocalist Nadia Basurto who provided perfect accompaniment across the project and on subsequent standalone singles, 'Begin Again' and 'Heart Wide Open'.

For guitarist Bestwick and trumpeter Flowers, their combined experiences have seen the two perform on stages across the world as part of varied ensembles and collaborations for acts including James Taylor, Down to the Bone, Kyle Eastwood, Timeforsoul and Brand New Heavies.  Archie affords the duo an exciting opportunity to take these accumulated experiences and project their own vision for a delectable contemporary soul-infused aesthetic.

With 'Archiefishal Intelligence', Bestwick & Flowers embrace the opportunity to return Archie to its instrumental roots with five tracks that showcase some wonderful performances which, as described by the group's Bandcamp page, seek to "decorate the melodies in as creative a way as possible".  The project presents a more stripped-down interpretation of songs which sees the Bestwick & Flowers duo helm much of the project along with drummer Bernardo Yacono who collectively present a series of sublime performances.  Spearheaded by the understated single 'Pecan', further gems can be found in the elegantly-paced opener 'Caramel' and the gentle swing of 'Pistachio' and the plush 'Liquorice'.

Music aside, the project as a whole seems to be making a timely statement about the burgeoning influence of AI as it begins its slow permanence into unthinkable facets of the art that we consume.  While the conversation used to revolve around whether AI would ever be able to achieve such creative heights, the conversation nowadays seems to have shifted towards our own individual comfort in consuming art with the notable absence of the human touch.

A futuristic android version of our beloved Archie - as depicted on the project's cover - brilliantly surmises the point and further references what is surely the perceived destination for music's inevitable future.

As a musical unit, Archie the Goldfish pulls together years of knowledge and experience from its contributors - its thoughtful and imaginative vision for music is encapsulated within warm textures, lush performances and exquisite writing.  Whichever side of the fence you find yourself sitting on - whether AI has you excited for an entirely new perspective of music appreciation or whether it has you fearful of losing our own perfect imperfections - it's undeniable that sitting down and appreciating a project like 'Archiefishal Intelligence' in this context will have you set the bar higher for technology's expectations if this is the act they intend to follow.

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