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Machines Dream - Machines Dream CD (album) cover

MACHINES DREAM

Machines Dream

 

Crossover Prog

4.18 | 8 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Machines Dream is going to be one hell of revelation to avid prof fans out there, having flown underneath my radar and discovering its existence only via candidacy into joining PA within the crossover sub-genre. This talented crew are based in tranquil Sault Ste-Marie, Ontario, Canada, not exactly a hotbed of prog, but it becomes apparent that these lads have definitely passed their exams on progressive rock, a clever blend of harder-edged Pink Floyd influences, perhaps similar to Norwegian band Airbag or German band RPWL in taking the highly-schooled style into different horizons.

Scratchy needle opens the book on a glittering prize, as 'Boundaries' evokes a particular interest in cool lyrics , motored by tremendously effective vocals (a consistent trait throughout the disc) from bassist Craig West , some spectacular guitar slinging from Keith Conway, Brian Holmes keyboard colorations are spot on, while Ken Coulter drums with authority. This is a bruising and heavy affair in order to get the juices flowing and the attention firmly on the upcoming features.

To prove the point, "Toronto Skyline" has a hook, line and sinker that could easily propel this song and its creators to legendary status, a true prog anthem for the eternal ages. Firstly, build a solid melody with a soaring and hummable chorus, an incandescent guitar solo and enough mood and space to sink deep into one's pleasure nodes. West sings brilliantly.

The nearly 5 minute "London at Night" is a completely different feel, perhaps more of a basic rock ballad, adorned with swoon and groove courtesy of a rollicking bass furrow, slide guitar frills, good propulsive beat and more seasoned West vocals. There is a more Roxy Music, Bowie, Peter Murphy-like feel here (bands they used to cover in their formative period) than, say KC, Floyd or Genesis. In fact Conway sounds more like Manzanera than Gilmour (which is funny because the two are close friends and collaborators).

This poppy respite only serves to elevate the torrid "Unarmed at Sea" , a mellotron-drenched epic that simply takes the listener's breath away, a sublime lead vocal within churning symphonic waves, 'gradually going tornado' into more passionate fury, like some storm of melancholic solitude unleashing the deepest pain. Conway then blisters on the fret board, curdling bolts of electric despair as it fizzles onward and upward. The somber piano keeps on playing the same desperate, forlorn and vulnerable lament.

The jaw-dropping "Mad for All Seasons" goes beyond the 10 minute mark and as such, is one of the more constructed epics presented here, Craig West has the uncanny ability to modulate his voice into unending variations, sounding here like the perpetually angry Derrick Dick (Fish), while the band does a fair flattery of Marillion by the book. The impossible guitar prefers a screechy tone, the overall mood ominous, vaporous and beguiling. There is a barely suppressed sense of rage that makes this piece feel like a shaken champagne bottle ready to blow its cork to kingdom come. But instead of the expected splashy eruption, the piano and bass veer into more tremulous mid-section that felt almost like the Legendary Pink Dots, before a tempestuous Manzanera-like solo scours the skies like some rough cleaning implement. "Closing time again", West bellows.

We then are witnessing two shorter tunes that showcase a more accessible slant, I must admit that they , while very pleasant and well-constructed, really do not highlight the band's strengths. "Stop Waiting for Miracles" is best described as the most immediate song on the album, a straight ahead boomer, constructed in very basic form, direct vocals and clinical playing by all aboard. "Locusts" opens with a familiar piano refrain, some the Who-like guitar phrasing, early rock 'n roll meets psychedelia that, again caters to the poppier side.

Things revert to haunting and majestic with the rather amazing "Colder Rain", a blustery hurricane of sound and vision, propelled by a Manfred Mann-like synth solo as well as profound symphonics, roaming bass and devastating sonic drums. A totally unexpected electric piano solo only compels one deeper into amazement.

"Everyone Says Goodbye" is another briefer ditty that has more of a blue-rock feel, almost hints of Robin Trower. As stated before, very good but not essential within the confines of the longer pieces.

All is well that ends well, and "the Session" is the perfect finale, suggesting nearly a dozen minutes of intense cinematographic prog, loaded with tons of delicious detail, quirky synth bubbles, rash guitar slashes and , once again, a new vocal modulation from Mr. West, a voice to be reckoned with. The essence of progressive rock is caught within its grooves, a sense of unexpected luxury and divine expression fluttering at the fingertips of the players as they manipulate their instruments. Fantastic debut , a band we all need to keep an eye on.

It is not uncommon for debut albums to showcase some diversity and that is why it's called a debut, a need to provide all the tendencies which make artists want to express themselves. I am sure that their next effort , the soon to be released 'Immunity' will concentrate on what Machines Dream do best, an album of longer, well-thought out compositions that extol the virtues of smartly crafted music and present a vocal performance that only serves to further enhance the talent on display. The artwork, production, arranging and playing are world-class.

4 android hallucinations.

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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