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Tim Blake - Crystal Machine CD (album) cover

CRYSTAL MACHINE

Tim Blake

 

Progressive Electronic

3.48 | 29 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars First solo effort by Tim Blake. I was first made aware of him in 1995 when I bought my first Gong albums (the Radio Gnome trilogy). So naturally that's how I became aware of him. In 1995 I barely knew of the Internet (it was just beginning to take off thanks to the introduction of Windows 95, which included built-in web connection and web browser). I didn't get hooked online until 1999, and it was a lousy WebTV (good for surfing the web and making online orders, but you couldn't download, and you had very limited access to certain audio and video files). So in 1995 I still had to resort to mail order catalogs to buy stuff I couldn't get in my neck of the woods. One mail order catalog sold CDs of Tim Blake, including Crystal Machine and Blake's New Jerusalem. That meant I discovered he embarked on a solo career in the late '70s. So I had to assume they were progressive electronic and I was right. I assumed they were originally released on Virgin Records, which was the label Gong recorded for. Turns out he was recording for EGG, a French label (that's known for many great progressive electronic albums of the late '70s), apparently Virgin rejected his music.

Crystal Machine is a collection of live recordings from the Seasalter Free Festival in England in 1976, and La Palace Théâtre in Paris in 1977. These were all improvised, so whatever flaws are plain to show to everyone, but I really dig the wonderful analog synth sounds. I knew after hearing Gong's final Radio Gnome Trilogy, You (1974) that he would have made it as a solo artist and does this album ever prove it! "Midnight" has that wonderful synth effects and lots of wonderful analog synth leads. "Metro/Logic" features this strange percussive rhythm, with plenty of synth leads, with Gong-type sound effects at the end. "Last Ride of the Boogie Child" shows the one weak spot, and that Tim Blake wasn't the greatest singer out there, but it's just two short spots here,, mainly synth bass with synth bubbles and leads. "Synthese Intemporel" is close to Tangerine Dream territory, not too different from what TD was doing around 1975. "Crystal Presence" is simply electronic effects, sounds like the same effects I heard off Angel's Egg. On the original LP, this piece ends in a lock-in groove that repeats the same sound effect over and over at the end until you lift the needle (provided you're playing it on a non-automatic turntable).

I am ever so glad Tim Blake did pursue a solo career in electronic music, and while the album isn't perfect, I really dig the '70s vibe and analog synth sounds and this is a required addition to your progressive electronic collection.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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