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Braen's Machine - Underground CD (album) cover


Braen's Machine

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Braen's Machine is a duo of soundtrack composers, one of them working with Morricone at a point (still not being visibly influenced by him in this prog special work), that have released two obscure and highly distinct albums in the early 70s (Underground dates 1971 and is a top effort from the band, whilst Temi Ritmici E Dinamici is more of a concept light opus, rapidly thrown and lost within the market in 1973), after which there's no telling what the two artists have separately walked into, plus what more of their soundtrack/experimental/progressive music can be brought to light. Braen's Machine was, anyway, abandoned (or finished) as a heavy-early 70s project, one interesting and ironed, even pretentious for many fans of the styles the music pastes, but actually light, refined basically and hesitant to be called essential - as far as quality goes - regardless of their best moments, most peculiar touches or most sound-caching ideas - 80% of them being in this first album, the toughest to look into, instead easy to crack up, if psychedelic, drought art rock or avant-expressions are a thing of your deep taste.

Without a great feedback from the music listeners/researches of these days, Braen's Machine is in a more than slightly danger to disappear from any mentions whatsoever, its a fragility counting as a project flaw, while its reminiscence of the 70s catching trend worth little; even if the records will always note down this duo's instrumental adventure - and some fans, from several circles, will also take it in account, more or less impressed - it is rather unlikely that the music has an endless echo...what more to say about it surviving tastes and times? It is this thought that makes me hesitate, above, in calling it essential. The project's fine, natural, and Underground is their best, most sinking work - but, being imperfect or insufficient more than it is interesting and intriguing, Braen's Machine delivers only a succinct and deep flower of progressive rock and experimental ideas, invariably drawn from their talent and musical nature, but brewed in a more original shape. And this might get to be one of the few statements about them, in the future, without the music counting that much.

Underground is a hard work with a soft impact and a carefully attractive suspense. Notably avant-conceptual and preoccupied with minimal but tonic essences, it sounds much like a progressive/art rock moment being powerfully treated and styled; in rest, a nice miracle would be for Braen's Machine to be included in a small chapter of Italian Prog's classic movement (but that's more Temi Ritmici E Dinamici's credit, thanks to its flat symphonic/song-like ideas). There's an immense rave and feel, of a psychedelic kind, having to do, most likely, with the raw cuts and counterpoints the music has, but also with the feeling that the duo has taken hard-rock/psychedelic flavors from the old 60s great spirit and, in an imported soundtrack-like minimalism, has developed a haunting, dark, introverted and optimistically profound expression.

There are peculiar impressions about Underground (Blindfolded, you would swear it was yet another Ohr label classic circa 1971. Awesome. -, otherwise thinking in terms of kraut-rock or rich psychedelics is not encouraging. Trusting the duo's mastered ideas in keyboards and soundtrack minimalism create a good interaction with the sum of effects (different from a slide to another) Underground has, but also won't let you believe this is the best they could have possibly done. In parallel, guitars and drums are also part of the act. With a noble artistic concept, Underground has some quality moments and frames, but the songs (some bagatelles, others modest burns and the rest importantly fuzzy/experimental) purely entertain the mood and the musical effort, the entire album being that which needs to impress you.

There's good, exciting prog rock in this album, it just misses an essential edge - and Braen's Machine are captive in this one smashing album, plus in their goal-less 70s.

Report this review (#157624)
Posted Friday, January 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars All instrumental "Spaghetti Western" meets early Pink Floyd with an active bass player - and a bit of Shadows on the side. An absolutely unique piece and worth hearing - if only for the experience and to broaden one's horizon in an era of today's rather predictable offerings.

Admittedly, 42 years after it's release it sounds very dated. Yet, I just can't dismiss it as irrelevant as it's so amusing - for what it is and the effort in creating something different. It's going back to the roots of Prog in a charming manner that everyone should hear - if only for the sake of it.

A definite Psychedelic leaning of which some motivated instrumentation was lovingly heaped on. Somewhat lightweight, yet an endearing effort. The first impression is the guitar work that's reminiscent of early Shadows. A bit embarrassing really, but soon one becomes aware of a rather dominant and skillful bass-line that carries through the whole album. It stands out in the mix perhaps excessively, but even so it is a pleasure to pay attention to.

After the first few minutes "Shadows" have largely been retired, giving more prominence to some jazzy piano runs, some tasteful flute additions. It is pleasant, non-offensive material all the way through, even that the closing pieces are close to "popcorn music" and largely forgettable.

The effort goes beyond just creating soundtracks and not aiming at the Pop charts. Even that I may not be tempted to spin it on a monthly basis, I feel that it has historical value that deserves recognition. Having created a warm, inner glow within, I feel so much richer to have heard this piece.

Essential it isn't, only a pleasant surprise. 3.5 for the effort.

Report this review (#910823)
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Who doesn't like a mystery?! Vintage Seventies psychedelic and proto-RPI group Braen's Machine was shrouded in it, a studio collective comprised of a duo that went by the names of Braen and Gisteri. In reality they were two soundtrack composers - Alessandro Alessandroni, a frequent collaborator of legendary scorer Ennio Morricone, and Oronzo De Filippi, and their contributions were overseen by a further composer, Piero Umiliani. The pieces found on this collection were culled from thousands of recording sessions that took place at Umiliani's studios in the early Seventies for the purpose of being used in films, and the all-instrumental `Underground' from 1971 is assortment of cool grooving acid rock improvisations, trippy psychedelic jams and sound-collage experimentations that is sure to be of interest to collectors of both film scores of the period and the early movements of the artier Italian rock bands of that decade.

Infectious but fleeting opener `Fying' is am up-tempo rock n' roller with no shortage of bouncing bass, peppy drumming and chiming electric guitar splinters, and `Imphormal' is a slinking psychedelic jam of shimmering effects and fuzzy acid-guitar wailing backed to a relentless beat. The nightmarish `Murder' heads into Goblin-esque territory with its stalking bass, jagged staccato piano stabs and faraway rumbling drum fills to bring a creeping tension, `Gap' whips into a frenzy of Popul Vuh-like ethnic percussion mantras and `More'-era Pink Floyd headiness with its incessant drum chases and strangled acid rock guitar soloing, and those Floydian touches carry on into (slightly tedious) `Militar Police', only grafted to unrelenting militaristic drumming.

The flip-side's `New Experiences' meets at the crossroads of late Sixties Pink Floyd and the early King Crimson improvisations, drifting with echoing spacey effects, mellow electric piano tip-toes and drowsy guitar tendrils all chilling out together. `Fall Out' brings a mellow funk with scuzzy guitar soling, rambunctious drumming and lovely electric piano shivers, `Obstinacy' is a skittering jazzy pysch freak-out of runaway electric piano dashes duelling with humming organ over the top of pulsing bass, and closer `Description' wraps on a final run of chilled psych rock with a nice urgent sprint in its final moments.

Sure it's dated and some will find much of the LP a little samey, but for those wanting to add a perhaps less important but still fascinating, addictive and thoroughly worthwhile title to their collection will be in for a gentle and tasty treat with this one. `Underground' occasionally calls to mind the earlier albums of Italian rock bands of the period before they truly headed in more adventurous progressive directions such as Osanna, Nuova Idea and the New Trolls, as well as reminding of embryonic Italian psych-rock acts like I Raminghi, Laser and The Underground Set alongside many others.

On the surface it seems like just a cool psychedelic party background soundtrack, but dig a little closer with plenty of re-spins and `Underground' reveals itself to be a damn fine psychedelic record that frequently reaches even further.

Three stars.

Report this review (#1873340)
Posted Thursday, February 8, 2018 | Review Permalink

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