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Hibernal - The Machine CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.95 | 73 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars The Australian music project Hibernal is driven by multi-instrumentalist and fellow PA- member Mark Healy. His debut album is a true concept album, which contains an actual story being told throughout the album, and in between long sections of heavy post-rock. The Machine is a sci-fi tale about a man whose life gets taken over by his company, and who loses all touch with the outside world(notice the track called 'Losing Touch'). In the story, the body parts of the man get physically replaced by more efficient one's from the company, which is a metaphor for the role a company can have in a workaholic's world. This is the biggest example of the purpose of the album, which is to show what your job can do to you when you get too involved.

The album's running time is pretty evenly divided between the sections of spoken word and some long-stretched instrumental chunks. The instrumental parts increase in power and moodiness as the album and the story progress. Yet, the album is not a smooth crescendo, because Hibernal keeps the parts of spoken word strictly divided from the post-rock, which makes that the music sometimes unexpectedly stops for a piece of the story and then continues again from the same point directly afterwards. I personally find this a bit disturbing, and also one of the major flaws of the album.

The tracks:

'This High' is a spoken introduction, in which the narrator just got started at the Machine Co. There is some calm ambient guitar play on the background to make this is an exciting introduction.

'Downward' starts in a darker mood, with a chunk of smooth post-rock. After three minutes the spoken word starts again. Accompanied by creepy sound effects, the narrator describes visiting 'Sub-level 19', where his hand gets replaced by a 'Machine hand'. The rest of the song consists out of some crushing guitar rock.

'An Open Door' starts again with narration. Here he is on his way home, and revising the happenings at work. The rest of the song is mainly soft and dark instrumental.

'Home' is where the narrator arrives home(surprise), where we first meet with Jane, his spouse. Here the narrator tells Jane he will have to spend more time at work, which causes a bit of an argument, in which the narrator first gets confronted with the consequences of working at Machine Co. The music is beautifully sad.

'Losing Touch' starts off with heavy guitar and loud, bold drumming. The sound is a bit robotic, and it's one of the weaker parts of the album musically. Later on some interesting electronics are used to lighten up the sound. Four and a half minutes in, narration comes in and an summary of some affairs is given, which all show that he is getting more and more swallowed up by his work. After that, the same kind of music as before wraps up the song.

'Hard At Work' is a short spoken piece. At first a voice-mail message can be heard wherein Jane says she fixed something in her house, but she's clearly uncomfortable. Then the narrator talks about one of his promotions, and he describes how he slowly gets disconnected from his body.

'No Return' features the same creepy sound effects that represent Sub-level 19. He is in doubt about allowing the new improvement, but his body forces him to continue and get the improvement. As this happens, he loses again a little more control over his body. At this point you can see where the story is going, but the music keeps it exciting and interesting. Especially the instrumental part in this song is a good example of that.

'One Last Glimpse' is another short, and maybe the most interesting one. The story gets very dramatic here; time starts to go very fast, and the narrator can't keep track of everything anymore. Jane gets tired of it and leaves him. The end is near. Acoustic guitars grace the second half of the song.

'Disconnection' stands out in the album like an epic. Music gets thick and heavy and the narration sounds a bit frustrated, for the first time in the album. He is getting sick of his job, and the music represents that really accurately. Yet, it also tends to fall back into that slightly robotic sound, with the drums sounding especially poor. Just over halfway, there's another very dramatic conversation. Here Jane visits him at his work, and he doesn't recognize her anymore. Not only that, he is also unable to recognize her sadness, and that makes Jane quite upset. Then the acoustic guitars start again and the rest of the song is instrumental music at its best. A stand-out track.

'Years' is the last short, in which the narrator is about to get promoted to the elite of the company, and he meets Mr. Wilkins again, for the first time since the opening track. Here it turns out he has been with the company for 24 years. This is a big shock and a major turning point in the story. The narrator has now decided to leave the company.

'The Coldness' continues the scene. Here the narrator has taken the elevator to the ground floor, so that he can go away. Once he tries to walk out of the elevator, however, his body refuses to. It forces him to go to Sub-level 19 to get the last modifications, so that his body will be completely taken over by the company. After that, there is a long instrumental part, another highlight of the album. After four minutes this abruptly stops, and the sounds of Sub-level 19 are being played again. The narrator sounds once again frustrated, but also desperate and hopeless. Then there is more heavy instrumental rock, this time very dynamic. It ends in some voice samples and the line "But I didn't remember anything after that..."

However spectacular and unique this album might be, it still has some flaws. The drum sound bothers me at times, the instrumental parts are sometimes too short and too empty and don't always stand well in contrast with the spoken parts, and even the narration could be improved in the way that it lacks the appropriate emotional reaction in the end. If you are able to focus on the story line for its entire duration, you might perceive this as a masterpiece, but considering the technical flaws, I can't call it that. Four solid stars.

twseel | 4/5 |


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