Architrave’s ‘Out of My Mind and Into Yours’ – A Spiraling Symphony of Synths and Stories

I’m sure it’s not a novel concept but it certainly does feel like one; dance music with intelligent, conceptual themes and lyrics. The type of dance music most of us are used to uses words mainly to incite people to dance or, like much hip hop, hype up the group themselves. This mix between fairly traditional dance music and well constructed lyrics full of stories and meaning (which is definitely something that I personally haven’t heard much before) is where Architrave’s new record ‘Out of My Mind and Into Yours’ begins…

Architrave – Out of My Mind and Into Yours (album cover)

And while it hearkens back to some post punk influences like say New Order, by the time that groundbreaking group had evolved from its somewhat traditional guitar and live drum setup to synth and drum machines they’d abandoned their poetic, gothic literacy for clever but overly simplistic stories of love and loss. Architrave is melding the latter with the former (former with the latter? I get confused — you know what I mean!).

And you know where before I said ‘fairly traditional dance music’; the ‘fairly’ is an entirely intentional and significant qualifier here. The dance music references on Out of My Mind and Into Yours are anything but one sided, conventional, or simple. While beats and songs are in standard time, tempos are often slow and low such as on Synesthesia which delves into psychedelia. Or the following track ‘Circles’ which blends drum machines and synths with the energy and fills of a 90s alternative track.

Which is where it’s pretty clear the phenomenon that is Architrave developed; from the intersection of just about every genre, moreso underground than popular, of the past 40 or 50 years. Which is also what distinguishes them from other lesser more solidly termed ‘retro’ acts; while the strongest sounds are those of early 80s postpunk synth pop and dance, they hide beneath them such a varied, encyclopedic knowledge of music throughout the decades these are no amateur imitators of any specific group or style. A track begins and at first you hear one of those delectable early Madonna pop tracks, but listen closer and there’s universes within universes…

In other words, this is not a record that settles into a groove. It’s defined (like all albums that include power couple Jennifer Maher and Paul Coleman) by an unyielding searching. An unstoppable creativity — one that only gets comfortable enough to make a track sound well created and polished and then flows into the following track that has a similar feel but completely different mood, instrumentation, and theme. For example, everything changes and track The Lot evokes Enya and Kate Bush. Which is immediately followed by the Cure like Elysium, and the entirely pensive, eclectically ruminative ‘Lorem Ipsum’ — which, by the way, is the highly original and unusual choice Architrave made for the first single and video from the record.

Luckily we settle into a groove at this point in the album, where the spooky ‘Machine for Living’ continues down the in depth ruminations of a dark age. A haunting, haunted track of sparse, subjective lyrics that span great epochs of time and evoke the troubling notion of the human being as machine and the machines the human beings create as the same living souls in different forms tells us how in depth, thoughtful, and well thought out every single note, sound, and word on this album is.

Discard the King is an indictment of the ultimate idiocy of fascism, which apparently requires nothing but a con man in a suit. Or a demagogue evoking religious fairy tales. Or even less. And those that “wanna keep it like the kaiser” (deep cut — ‘did I just amaze you’ with that quote?) are nothing but sycophantic, easily led fools. It’s a simplistic, overwhelmingly negative view of humanity’s persuadability, cutting and elitist and… completely right and true.

The last two tracks are something I didn’t even realize existed until I heard it — a very specific sound that is ‘classic architrave’; evocative minimalist spiritual tracks that rely on Maher-Coleman’s subtler than subtle pitch perfect angular crooning and dark, reverb laden synth drum bass and guitar for flare. Catchy, unexpected melodies over thoroughly developed worlds of sound set the stage for No Days Off, a paranoid yet light track about non-stop work followed by the anthemic ‘The Edge’, the most narrative track on the album about a flat earth preacher dispensing with ‘common knowledge’ just because he (and his followers) seek something more attractive than the truth. Side note — the video for this track is especially vivid and fun and features local legend Gary Ziroli (of Mr. Cancelled, Thinner Friends, and other local underground noise punk groups as well as a fantastic and seriously accomplished gritty naturalistic local still life photographer) as a Flat Earth preacher that rejects wordly wisdom and is shunned and pelted with inflatable ROUND globes by everyone else in the video, inside and out of the Church.

Photo by Bryan Lasky

There’s no shortage of ideas and inspiration on this album. At times it does feel as though the inspiration isn’t entirely moved by the Spirit but somewhat of an attempt to entertain, but that doesn’t bother the majority of us listeners does it? Architrave continues to keep it both catchy and evocatively moody on their third lp in less than 3 years. Hard work may get tiresome, but it’s something Jennifer and Paul Coleman have never tired of, seeming to have unending well springs of motivation and inspiration for so many great songs in such a short period of time that just trying to keep up with and enjoy it all as much as it deserves can at times be exasperating (especially to a critic like myself — feel bad for me! Than go immediately to bandcamp and download this record! Like right now! What are you still doing here?!!!).

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