Published on April 5, 2021 by David Hurwitz | Share this post!
Archetypes consists of twelve character sketches: Rebel, Innocent, Orphan, Lover, Magician, Ruler, Joker, Caregiver, Sage, Creator, Hero and Explorer. Four movements were composed by guitarist Sérgio Assad, four by multi-instrumental/vocalist Clarice Assad, and one by each of the four members of Third Coast Percussion. The nature of the collaboration was, audibly, harmonious. Each piece lasts around 4-5 minutes, and explores an evocative range of sonorities. Conceptually, the music isn’t so far from such works as “The Four Temperaments” by Nielsen or Hindemith, although the range of personality types encapsulated in these twelve vignettes is, as you can see, much broader.
Musically, the idiom is an eclectic mixture of elements borrowed from “world” and ethnic musics, new age, cool jazz, minimalism–just about anything you might think of; but again, the sonorities are remarkable for their smoothness and polish. Some of them fit the characterizations more obviously than others. The Jew’s harp solo at the start of “Jester,” for example, tells us exactly where we are, but the music of “Orphan,” “Sage,” or “Creator” challenges us to match the sound to the concept in a more emotional, intuitive way. The ensemble itself possesses a virtually unlimited range of color, strategically deployed for maximum contrast. You never quite know what’s coming next, but the result is consistently captivating, and fabulously engineered.
Just how well it will all stand up to repeated listening is an open question, but the whole album has been put together very smartly, with evident conviction and great care. The project’s initial concerts (and recording) took place just before COVID-19 stopped most live events dead in their tracks. Now, as cultural life slowly gets moving again, this particular meditation on the human condition might impress you as having special relevance. I would suggest that you check out a track or two, and then see if you feel inclined to go for the whole package. It’s thoughtful and provocative in a very good way–soulful but never preachy–and somehow very timely.