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Tim Blake

Progressive Electronic

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Tim Blake Crystal Machine album cover
3.55 | 46 ratings | 8 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Midnight (7:40)
2. Metro Logic (8:07)
3. Last Ride Of The Boogie Child (9:43)
4. Synthese Intemporal (19:30)
5. Crystal Presence (3:11)

Total time 48:11

Bonus Tracks on 2017 remaster:
6. Surf (3:41)
7. Synthese Intemporel I (3:21)
8. Synthese Intemporel II (2:20)

Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Blake / synths (EMS Synthi A, Elka Rhapsody, Minimoog), Fx, composer & producer

- Patrice Warrener / on stage laser lighting

Releases information

Partially recorded Live: in 1976 (tracks 1-3) and 1977 (4)

Artwork: Rosa Gauditano (photo)

LP Egg ‎- 900.545 (1977, France)

CD Mantra ‎- MANTRA 067 (1992, France)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2578 (2017, UK) Remastered by Ben Wiseman with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy TIM BLAKE Crystal Machine Music

TIM BLAKE Crystal Machine ratings distribution

(46 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TIM BLAKE Crystal Machine reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First solo effort from Tim Bake (Gong) and possibly his best. In this sci-fi synth soundscapes, Blake develops his own musical eccentricities with lot of moods and technologies. The album delivers a sensual "cosmic" synthesizer trippiness. It's played as a long live session, supposing to be a performance for a sound installation, exploring the nature and meditative dimensions of astral navigation. The first composition "Midnight" opens the audiovisual show with intense, endless dreamy synth strings, "cosmic" sounding molecular noises. A very effervescent improvisation, the best moment here. "Metro Logic" is a groovy, kitsch synth experimentation, including spaced out textures. "Last ride of the boogie child" is a mysterious, relaxed electronic excursion, featuring a nice bass groove and drum machines. "Synthese intemporal" is an ambient, new agey, astral exploration with lot of analog synth melodies (really artificial), too much for me but the piece contains its little good moments with well found electronic figures. "Crystal presence" reveals better impressions despite that is not an epic spaciousness. The sound is warmer and darker, much more atmospheric too. Recommended to sci-fi synth maniacs.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerk are considered as the initiators of electronic-rock (as opposed to Stockhausen, Glass, Cage, Wendy/Walter Carlos , who are pure electronic pioneers) , this album remains , in my opinion, the birthplace of ambient- electronica, mainly because of its spacey feel (No, not Kevin) . I have played this to many younger fans/experts of house-trip , who proceeded to kneel in respectful prayer, when I gave them some historical background. Clearly, having played with the classic Gong line-up made quite an impression and Hi T Moonweed , as Tim Blake was known then , was featured prominently on the by now mythic Trilogy. This is supremely delicate music, quite minimalist with its overtly languid textures, lucid whisps of cosmic colouring and serene astral explorations. First, let's get one thing straight, this prog sub-genre can never sound dated (especially in view of the current popular aversion for synthetic and synthesized sounds, relying more on today's image re-hash and fashion attitude: aka Black-Eyed "Piss" and Maroon feces). Electronica will always be a futuristic horizon, regardless of what new gimmick hits your Ipod. This glazed and fragile masterpiece will stand the test of time and it will require some very devoted concentration the first time around, so PLEASE, do not attempt a "background muzak-while I'm cooking some risotto" initial run through, it won't work! Perhaps long after dinner's end, on the deck with a fine armagnac & gazing up at the midnight stars, that's when you will reach the promised euphoria of stellar atmospheres. Definitely, a personal fave. 4.5 galaxies
Review by kev rowland
3 stars I believe that the 2000 Blueprint CD release of 'Crystal Machine' is the same as the album from 1977 as two of the tracks are live recordings from that time, but there is very little information in the booklet. Tim is listed as the only musician, but also featured is Patrice Warrener is credited with all of the lasers/effects and the impression is very much that music was only part of the show. Tim was very much into the dreamy Gong/Floyd/Hawkwind space-style of playing, and this album is a very good example of it. Again, this has to be treated either as background music or late night sounds to drift into. Dynamic excitement it is not!

Feedback #60, Oct 2000

Review by Warthur
4 stars Recorded after the end of his stint in Gong and before he joined Hawkwind, Tim Blake's debut solo album Crystal machine is a part-studio part-live affair, documenting music composed to accompany a pioneering laser light show. Musically speaking, it's mostly in line with the work being produced at around the same time by Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, with enough callbacks to Tim's earlier work in Gong to distinguish it from those pioneers of Krautrock- derived electronic music. It doesn't present anything to revolutionise the genre, but it more than holds its own against the likes of, say, Tangerine Dream's Ricochet or Schulze's Moondawn.
Review by admireArt
3 stars Space/Rock & Psychedelic Electronics.

I suppose that by 1977, when this Tim Blake's first work appeared, it could even have sounded a bit old-fashioned. Well, after Tangerine Dream's, 1975 "Rubycon" mostly everything else in the prog/electronic world, sounded old-fashioned.

Straight to the point, this "Crystal Machine", Tim Blake's first post Gong and Hawkwind solo effort, owes a lot to some of this genre's pioneers, he is really "composition-wise" not telling a different or "new" story. But he turns out to be an excellent story teller.

By blending various approaches in styling, like "Space/Rock's" basic rhythms with a very 60' psychedelic focus and of course more than enough very!! TD's atmospheres. He kind of makes it a worthwhile experience and maybe an "essential" Prog/Electronic album, depending where you are standing.

I myself first heard TD's "Rubycon", almost at the time of its release (give n' take). So I, as to where I'm standing, I will decieve myself, telling you, it is not annoying more than once, that this record sounds more than a lot, to TD's musical language, than Blake's. This happens to the point of "laughter" in track 1 "Midnight" and "Synthese Intemporel" track 4.

Worst of all, the other 3 tracks are superb!... Which makes it difficult to just miss or throw away into oblivion. A real shame!

What makes this 3 tracks work perfectly, is that they do not rely on synthesizers alone, nor their "pulses". They are by far more "unique" because the composer establishes a more "experimental" tone, and a more relaxed atmosphere with additions of other "flavors" to the mix.

So! Kind of hard to rate, but 2 out of 5, sets this one only for true "electronic" followers>"

I myself will further into Tim Blake's solo discography.

***3.5 PA stars

Review by 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.

Review by Modrigue
3 stars After his collaboration on Steve Hillage's debut "Fish Rising" and his departure from GONG in 1975, Tim Blake adopted the moniker "Crystal Machine" for his solo works. With the collaboration of light artist Patrice Warrener, Philippe Denis and Bernard Szajner (who worked on GONG tours and will later create Jean-Michel Jarre's laser harp), they will conceive the first live performances combining music and laser lighting.

This first album is mainly a compilation of live extracts from the Seasalter Free Festival in 1976, except "Synthèse Intemporel", recorded at Paris's Palace Theatre, February 1977. Improvised on EMS and Moog synthesizers, the music is spacey and ambient but remains different from what the German or French electronic bands were proposing during the same time period.

Curiously, the first two tracks are not the best ones. The aerial atmospheric "Midnight" is enjoyable, but a bit lengthy. Also ambient but more surprising, "Metro Logic" features tribal percussions sound effects. "Last Ride Of The Boogie Child" is trippy and possesses a slight mystical feel. Nice. Longest track of the record, the spacey style of "Synthèse Intemporel" reminds a little TANGERINE DREAM. My personal favorite. The disc concludes with short sci-fi atmospheric "Crystal Presence".

"Crystal Machine" is rather good but does neither possesses the hypnotic power of TANGERINE DREAM or Klaus Schulze nor the melodic accessibility of Jean-Michel Jarre. Maybe the music should be listened to in the context of laser shows to be fully appreciated. Anyway, this album contains nonetheless a few experimentations and will please vintage 70's electronica fans.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The first post-Gong solo album from keyboard player Tim Blake, this is a fascinating--if uneven--LP. From spacey electronic music ('Midnight') via keyboard-driven grooves ('Metro logic') to the spare jauntiness of 'Last ride of the boogie child' (complete with unconvincing vocals), this combination ... (read more)

Report this review (#1815440) | Posted by Vinyl Connection | Sunday, October 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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