'A shape shifting sound' - Kevin Le Gendre
'Truly Remarkable' - NARC Magzine
Archipelago are a genre-defying trio of adventurous musicians, formed out of the North East of England’s creative musical underground. Fronted by multi-instrumentalist and composer Faye MacCalman, their sound is a dreamlike collision of otherworldly atmospheres, heartfelt song-writing and energetic off-kilter rhythms. Moving between instruments and effects to create the illusion of a much larger ensemble, before peeling back to their raw, improvisational trio form, Archipelago’s uncompromising refusal to fit in one genre makes for a fully-charged musical experience.
With influences stretching from Joni Mitchell to Don Cherry to Esperanza Spalding, Archipelago draw on a deep pool of sonic references and the diversity of their individual musical histories. Faye began working with bassist John Pope (John Pope Quintet, Richard Dawson) and drummer Christian Alderson (The Unit Ama, Month of Birthdays) in ‘mutant funeral jazz big band’ The Midnight Doctors, brainchild of Newcastle guitarist, composer and producer Phil Begg, (who suggested the trio should play together outside that project). Barely a year later Archipelago were playing their first show, squeezed into a tiny coffee shop. Since that debut they have continued to defy expectations, playing anywhere from DIY arts spaces and small rock bars to mainstream pop festivals and respected jazz nights, honing their music onstage and connecting with audiences across supposed genre boundaries.
“...their predilection for both heaviness and melancholy...make their next move a promising prospect.” - Jazzwise review of 'Weightless'
Following the release of their debut EP (2016’s ‘I’) with the full-length album ‘Weightless’ in 2017, Archipelago were selected by Jazz North for that year’s round of the prestigious ‘Northern Line’ touring scheme, introducing them to a whole new audience across the North of England. Their activist stance saw them creating ‘BETWEEN WAVES’ in 2018, with the support of HMUK (via a Peter Whitingham Development Award). This project brought a select group of female-identifying artists to make new music with Archipelago, devised, performed and recorded in a concert residency at Newcastle’s vital multi-disciplinary arts venue Cobalt Studios. That same year the trio also collaborated on a commission for Lancaster Jazz Festival with the brilliant experimental trio J Frisco, forming a ‘superband’ to perform new music specially composed by MacCalman. Amongst all this activity Archipelago kept up their dedicated performance schedule, including sharing bills with Arun Ghosh, Binker & Moses and Once And Future Band.
“compelling stuff, particularly on the sections where all hell lets loose!.” - Bebop Spoken Here
2019 saw Faye MacCalman selected for Serious Music’s well-respected Take Five shceme, as well as Manchester Jazz Festivals talent-development program Hot House. Supported by BBC Introducing and selected as a Latitude Festival highlight by Tom Robinson (BBC6 Music), Archipelago completed a national tour in 2019, further cementing their growing reputation as an unmissable live act.
In 2020, despite the restrictions on touring, Archipelago were invited to present online concerts for Manchester Jazz Festival and EFG London Jazz Festival, finding ways to engage their creativity through online performance. They also headed into the studio to record the follow-up album to ‘Weightless’, their first full-length recording since 2017. The highly-anticipated new album ‘Echoes to the Sky’ is due for release mid 2021, in partnership with Newcastle’s growing New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings label.