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The best kept secret in music


"Amplifier Magazine"

It’s hard to pin down this dexterous
Chicago quartet, and perhaps that’s the best place to start. Though their press release tabs the band as “post-rock” (a
nonsensical genus if there ever was one), Archaeology, as their name implies, digs
deep into a myriad of rock sub-genres to create an idiosyncratic sound. At the core of the band’s identity is the stellar, atmospheric
guitar work of Nicholas
Mirzabegian and Peter Tsoukas (imagine Tom Verlaine and Andy Summers in the same band). Vacillating from quick arpeggios
to linear harmonies to fluid-jazz
tinged lines, sometimes all within the same track, the twosome create a wonderfully eccentric pallet for Mirzabegian
to weave his vocals through. Equally intriguing is the rhythm section of bassist Brad Smith and Taylor Cabal, who are a soulful combination, opting for in-thepocket
patterns which reign in the resident
guitar heroes, especially in the slippery rhythms of “Sell It To The Masses” and the seductive midnight groove of the
title track. With elements of prog, emo, punk, and art-rock running amok in Chant Chant Camp, Archaeology carves out its own pleasurable niche.
- TOM SEMIOLI - Tom Semioli

"New City Chicago"

Chicago four-piece Archaeology has recently released "Chant
Chant Camp" (Thug Factory), an impressive, layered piece of work, its follow-up to the
promising "Slow and Gifted" EP. The group makes the most of two guitars, mixing and
mashing the single-string melodics into a heavy wave of noise and sound. The complexly
organized songs create a whirlpool around your head—some space-like, some pounding
and rock-driven, the songs creep and crawl into a wistful oblivion. The vocals are strong,
too, pretty voices on top of pretty instrumentation, sometimes doubled-up and never
hovering—the voice is like another instrument. Heard in one sitting, "Chant Chant
Camp"'s songs blend together, each with the sort of sameness that would destroy most
records like this, but this one's different—this one big song has many, many secrets to
- Tom Lynch - Tom Lynch

"Lost At Sea"

There is something about Archaeology that is very promising. Some would argue that
they aren't the pinnacle of originality or technicality, but I would combat that they
possess a musical solidarity that is all the (much) more important to the skill set of a
rising band.
Some time ago I wrote a review for the Archaeology debut album, Slow and Gifted,
following an impressive performance at Schubas in Chicago. The group has continued to
play gigs around Chicago and, with each inspired performance they turn out, gain a
modest following. Chant Chant Camp is a further step in the right direction and gains the
quartet additional cred.
Chant Chant Camp is eight tracks of near-psychedelic rock exploration, upright/solid
musicianship, and mutating sounds. The group is undoubtedly associated with the indie
rock camp, but the common conventions of that style sell Archaeology a bit short. Rather
than lumping them in with so many different bands of an independent culture, it is better
to describe the facets of style that they embody. References will be used but stick with
me here, folks.
The 'similar bands' tab for Archaeology would not be complete without a reference to
Mercury Program. Although the latter is instrumental and more influenced by forces
outside of rock music, both groups are/were heavily into mid-to-slower tempos,
reverb/filtered sound, and somewhat darker but upbeat melodic and guitar-centric song
formations. Bass lines with Archaeology recall Lustre King's Craig Ackerman, who was
very aggressive and stylistic but also always attentive to framing the bottom of each song
in deep tones. The drums of Chant Chant Camp are just as solid — based in rock meters
(mostly 4/4 patterns) but doing so in creative ways, and often cutting time and throwing in some offbeat dance grooves. Guitars wring out in echoing chambers of plucked notes,
like vibrating angular lines of a spider web.
Where Archaeology differs from all previous comparative references is in their lyrics and
vocal harmonies. Some of the best parts of Chant Chant Camp are when guitarist/singer
Nicholas Mirzabegian and bassist/singer Brad Smith match up for two part harmonies
(listen to lead track "Abricka Bradaptah"), call-and-response segments ("Water In the
Boat"), and powerful distress signals (like in "Water In the Boat" when the two
simultaneously drone "Decompose the chemicals/ Water in the boat, oh no" or again in
"The Island Sound" when they stingingly accuse "These bridges were broken long before
you were around").
If the high points of the album are its crafty and assertive vocal parts, then the strength
between those peaks, and the players' overall solidarity, is the band's highlight;
Archaeology have an uncanny ability to make the idea of exploring and transitioning into
an actual song. This band's calculated compositions are something that few rock bands do
so well, with crescendos building to intense choruses — or on the flipside, with all-out
choruses paving the way for psychedelic mini-jams that showcase things like unexpected
vibe hooks and guitar effects. This aspect especially separates Archaeology from others.
- Josh Zanger

"Hanging Like A Hex"

Emerging out of left field is this interesting group of musicians
producing sounds that are mostly instrumental, yet full-on ingrained in a smooth
continuous flow of chill music. Further down in this section is a review for a band called
Hi Red Center and this band has a really similar feel, minus the wild chaotic intrusions.
Using a standard rock band set-up, yet with a nice complement of vibraphones to really
chill it out and add a unique flavor, Archaeology have created eight songs to let your
mind drift. While this certainly is in the realm of 'rock' I could definitely see this music
being used as tracks for free-flow hip-hop artists. At the very least, it would make for
some sweet samples. (Thug Factory, - Hanging Like A Hex

"UR Chicago Magazine - Interview"

Don't Judge A CD By Its Cover -

With their own label called Thug Factory and an album cover using graffiti-style text and photos of industrial warehouses, you might mistake Archaeology for another terrible indie hip-hop group. But their debut full-length, Chant Chant Camp, contains nine tracks of complexly arranged and gorgeously produced experimental rock layered with dual vocal melodies, textured guitars and flourishes of vibraphone. Though their rhythmically driven sound immediately recalls the Mercury Program, who rely heavily on vibraphone, it at times resembles the more aggressive and angular At the Drive-In. However, founding members Nick Mirzabegian (guitar/vocals/vibes), Brad Smith
(bass/vocals/vibes) and Taylor Cabal (drums) all united based on one common influence: Saddle Creek band Cursive. “I used to live up in Wrigleyville, and we threw huge parties all the time, and at one of these huge parties I met Nick and Taylor, [who] had just met as well,” Smith remembers.“And [Brad] put on this Cursive record, and I was like, ’Oh, you like Cursive?’” Mirzabegian says. “So the next time he had a party I was like, ‘Brad, we should start a band [that sounds] kind of like Cursive.’ So eventually we did.”They started jamming in Smith’s loft apartment, to the dismay of their neighbors. “I remember we were practicing, and then we stopped and someone was like, ‘Shut up!’” Smith says. “So we knew we were on to something.” “Yeah, we just weren’t screaming enough,” Mirzabegian adds.Their first recording was the EP Slow and Gifted, which featured a lot of screaming and few lyrics. But since then, Mirzabegian and Smith have reversed that trend, often alternating, echoing and stacking their voices, which are each distinct—Mirzabegian’s is higher, Smith’s is lower—but blend well. Lyrics such as, “I lost my focus staring at the clock / I lost my focus and looked in the lost and found,” and, “On a Monday, I can manage to move / All across every single interval / How can I gauge? The signal must be down / I can guess every once in a while,” convey a sense of frustration with the mundanity of everyday life. “I always thought lyrics were kind of personal, so whatever the person is saying, everyone’s going to have a different interpretation of it,” says Mirzabegian, who likens that aspect of the songwriting process to doing homework. “It’s true,” Smith adds. “I barely listen to lyrics in music, myself. I hear melody.”The innovative melodies and harmonies present on Chant Chant Camp are partly due to the addition of guitarist Peter Tsoukas, who doesn’t actually sing on the record, though he provided many of the ideas. Formerly a member of countless bands, including Hanalei and Hot Love (in which Smith played as well), Tsoukas also leads his own project, the quirky indie band Dead Dare, and has since begun singing more during Archaeology’s live shows. “I’ve been singing a lot in other areas in my life, so I feel more confident in my vocal abilities,” Tsoukas explains.The professional quality of the album’s recording can be attributed to the engineering talents of Sean Morrison at Blam Recording in Chicago. The band laid down the basic tracks live in the studio, then went back every other week to add vocals, extra guitars and, of course, the vibes. “The entire record we did all in pretty much two takes, which is pretty remarkable, I think, from my experience with other groups,” Tsoukas says. “We were practiced. We were ready to do it, for sure,” Smith adds.It’s this kind of skilled musicianship that results in such a tight sound. Unlike Tsoukas’ Dead Dare or Smith’s other band, Plan B, songwriting is a group effort—the four of them write all the songs together. “No one comes in and says, ‘Hey, I got a song today, guys,’” Tsoukas says. “It’s like, we come in and—““Get high,” Mirzabegian interjects.“And make fun of people,” Tsoukas continues. “I think that’s
one of the most important parts of our band and how we work. It’s like a democracy.”

Archaeology play the Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western,
773/276-3600) February 1 with Scalpels and Microchimp; Chant Chant Camp is available now.

Photograph: Clark Aldridge - Amber Drea


Chant Chant Camp-LP (2006)- Yes. Some college radio / stream the entire record at

Slow and Gifted-EP (2003) - N/A


Feeling a bit camera shy


In a subtle and implicit manner, Archaeology presents a landscape decorated in dark optimism; underpinnings of cynicism and suspicion are key components of the record, but they’re delivered in a charming demeanor. The four-piece manage to skillfully blend an equal dose of post-punk and dub-inspired grooves/pockets to concoct an unrivaled sound. Instrumentally, Archaeology exhibit a fondness for texture; it almost sounds as if the four are each in their own bubble, but the combination of rhythms and tones are well conceived as thoughts of pleasantness and complacency are merged with those of secrecy and skepticism. Taylor Cabal (drums) and Peter Tsoukas (guitar, vibes) create a tasteful array of traffic with their instruments, as bassist Brad Smith and Nicholas Mirzabegian (guitar, vibes) season the ever evolving post-rock compositions with a distinct pair of melodic voices.