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MÁQUINA!

Proto-Prog • Spain


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Máquina! biography
Máquina! is maybe the very first underground rock group to have recorded in Franco's Spain, their first single dating back to early 69, and the following year, their first Lp was out with a striking artwork depicting a clock coming out from a croissant meaning that it was time to wake-up (and have breakfast) in Spain: The album was called Why? Máquina! and it was clearly so rebellious under a dictature that fellow group Tapiman (and Barcelona crosstown rivals/friends) answered them with a track Don't Ask Why. The five-piece group developed a high-energy Hammond-driven psych/prog rock with two lead guitarists, with many extraordinary musical moments given the context of those years. It is not known if Guitarist Paris is related to Pan & Regaliz's singer Guillem Paris.

Two years later, the group recorded with a different line-up (both guitarists having left) their next album live with a much different bluesier sound complete with a brass section (and almost all new material) reminiscent of Chicago Transit Authority.

I am at a loss to explain what became of these guys, since Máquina! disbanded, but their legacy remains, with a superb and stunning debut album and a quite pleasant follow-up.




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
The first Spanish prog/psych rock group



Discography:
Why? Máquina! - 1970
En Directo - 1972

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MÁQUINA! discography


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MÁQUINA! top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.52 | 16 ratings
Why? Máquina!
1970

MÁQUINA! Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 7 ratings
En Directo
1972

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MÁQUINA! Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Why? Máquina!  by MÁQUINA! album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.52 | 16 ratings

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Why? Máquina!
Máquina! Proto-Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I must start by saying that I'm not very keen on proto-prog, and if you like this sub-genre you will most likely add one more star to my rating, perhaps even two.

I have often seen Maquina!'s Why? described as "one of the best rock albums ever made in Spain". Well, that's an opinion I certainly do not share for what concerns the quality of the music as such, but what is true is that this was an album of great historical significance, in spanish rock there would be a "before Why?" and an "after Why?".

Spain was still under the dictatorship of Franco (until late 1975) and everything which looked or sounded too modern or libertarian was censored, so all the true aspects of rock came late and watered down. Sure enough there was some late 60's beat and psychedelia, but it was a carefully sanitized version of the real thing, with all the guys / girls looking nice and tidy, the songs still kept short, not too wild and with innocuous lyrics. Maquina! from Barcelona in the region of Catalunya were the first band to portray a genuine free and hippy attitude, with really long hair, long instrumental jams and non-commercial stance (in parallel Smash would do the same in the southern region of Andalucia). They achieved this partly by singing in english and by avoiding any political connotations in their lyrics. The term Prog was not yet used and this music became known in Spain as "Underground".

The music is proto-prog, influenced by the likes of Iron Butterfly, Rare Earth, Brian Auger, Hendrix etc, with a trippy rhythm section filled up with fuzz guitar and Hammond.

The opener I Believe became quickly popular by its distinctive ¾ beat, still not very widespread in those times. The title track Why? accounts for nearly 25 minutes which in those times in Spain was unheard of, and it was splitted in the 2 sides of the LP, the first part of 12 min in side A being the main song theme and the 13 min in side B being mainly an instrumental jam with a reprise of the song theme in the end. Really something special for Spain in those times. The last song on the LP was Let Me Be Born, something more like a Beatles song.

In the CD edition there are 2 bonus tracks, Earth's Daughter and Look Away Our Happiness, originally released as a single in 1969, the first one very much influenced by The Beatles and the latter more similar to a Brian Auger fast-rhythm soul track.

Regarding the cover art with the clock stuck on a croissant, it has been frequently interpreted as a methapor "calling Spain to wake up from the Franco dictatorial regime" but its author bassist Jordi Batiste explained in an interview that it was not so intentional, he just wanted to do something in the style of Dali, he took some croissants he bought from the bakery and started playing with them, pinched them with screwdrivers, electric switches etc until he came up with the clock. The popular interpretation was nice but reality was more mundane.

Their next release "En Directo" would be quite different due to line-up changes, more jazz- rock-soul oriented and with much more brass.

In summary, recommended for fans of proto-prog or those curious for the development of prog in Spain, but far from essential in my personal book.

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 En Directo by MÁQUINA! album cover Live, 1972
3.03 | 7 ratings

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En Directo
Máquina! Proto-Prog

Review by João Paulo

3 stars A live album of this Spanish band recorded in seventies. Lyrics are in english and we can listen a man and female singers in blues vein. Sax and electric guitar in duets made a beautifull music context. Organ it's balanced but we can listen some guitar solos played in a nice and beautifull way. Music for calm nights but nothing new. Female singer whant give a Jamis Joplin vein and sing very well but it's not so good. An album in Rock of the begining of seventies with lots of calm blues and some more entusiastic tracks with some good guitar bass and organ solos. Nothing special but not boring. I give 3 stars but really 3,5

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 Why? Máquina!  by MÁQUINA! album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.52 | 16 ratings

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Why? Máquina!
Máquina! Proto-Prog

Review by komun

4 stars "Why? Máquina" is the first album of MÁQUINA!, a Catalan progressive rock's band, the first progressive band in Spain. In 1970 Franco was still in the government in Spain, so Spain was not a democratic country and it wasn't easy to make progressive rock.

Máquina! didn't use the Spanish or Catalan language to do their album; all the songs are in English. I think that thing is because Máquina! wanted to be more "European" and to make a different music, nearer to the progressive underground than the sixties pop.

The fantastic cover was an idea of Jordi Batiste and it seems it's a calling to "wake up" in Spain. Why? is, musically, excellent, but I think the songs 5 and 6 are more pop than progressive rock. The rest of the album is excellent. Moreover, both "Why?" and "Why? (continuació)" make Máquina! a "Spanish Soft Machine".

Four stars; it would be five, but the song number 5 and 6 are clearly inferior.

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 En Directo by MÁQUINA! album cover Live, 1972
3.03 | 7 ratings

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En Directo
Máquina! Proto-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Máquina!'s second album is a rather different affair than the debut, but just as good in its own way . Almost two years had gone since the release of that groundbreaking (on a Spanish scale) album, and the two guitarists had gone and the drummer also. Leaving no solution for Batiste and Herrera rebuilding the group, they had to settle for different musical horizons even enlisting two German citizens as their brass section on top of the three newcomers.

Just as laden with energy as their debut album, this double vinyl is however quite different developing a more bluesy, funky, brassier sound not far away from Chicago Transit Authority's debut album but also maybe the funky War combo (remember them with Eric Burdon). The Hammond organ is still the centre of the band and one can feel that Herrera is maybe the main ingredient behind this machine! ;-) Tracks like the lenghty Chains (used a bit as a showcase for the musos to display their aptitude at their respective instruments) or heavy blues Time Is Over are major fun and have a real impressive sound (given what was probably amateurish conditions of then-Spain) and the other great blues (In F) track is full of solos that most fans love to die for. A superb, adapted and extended rendition of their first single Look Away Our Happiness is another great moment. The lenghty track called Sonata is definitely deceiving but in name only as it yet again another scoarcher that could be on any of the first five Chicago albums.

Not quite essential for the proghead, this is nevertheless a great album, which should please all 70's music lovers. Whatever happened to these guys after this is still a mystery to this writer.

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 Why? Máquina!  by MÁQUINA! album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.52 | 16 ratings

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Why? Máquina!
Máquina! Proto-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars With this stunning debut, Máquina! scored heavily for posterity as this is the first known ROCK album to come from Spain and what an astounding one it is!!! Really these guys made one hell of rebellious record given the context in which Spain was being submitted to Franco's dictature. A stunning artwork depicting a clock rising from a croissant was clearly a call for Spanish youth to wake-up (and have a good breakfast) and get ready for a new day. Quite a revolution knowing the ultra conservateur nature of El Caudillo, even if by that time Spain was letting loose things as European tourist money was flowing in (including this writer spending a few Easter holidays as a kid around those years;-) but although the end was near, it was incredibly risky.

Stylistically, we are dealing with a psych/prog rock with extended and excellent interplay, somewhere in between live Cream (with KBs) and early Floyd or even a live Grateful Dead. The twin guitars are one of the features but one of them played bass when the bassist was busy with the flute or singing. The opening track is simply a superb atmospheric instrumental with organ-piano KB attack doubled by a superb and orgasmic guitar, a pure delight! Then comes the 25 min title track (broken over the two sides of the vinyl) with superb organs, twin guitar attack and rather enjoyable but muffled-in vocals, the whole thing going on an not too extended jam and evolving to one of the more entertaining drum solo I have ever been given to listen - maybe because it is not a pure solo as the KB outlines a few phase here and there. The second part of Why? opens the second side of the vinyl and picks up where the first part had left: a superb mostly instrumental enthusiastic prog-tinged rock jam. Quite enjoyable, especially when discovering this in 05, some 35 years after it was recorded. There are some particularly exhilarating moments in this track! The last track is yet another great tune

The two bonus tracks are the afore-mentioned single tracks and although a bit different than the album (especially in the vocal dept but the Earth's Daughter track sounds like some David Bowie spin-off), they do not interfere in the continuous ambiance of the album and they add to the album's incredibly short duration. This album is a relative minor gem for progheads but is a 24-carat nugget for the psych-jam group fans!! Impressive, although I must be careful in not over- rating it!! But I think rounding it up to the upper star is not insulting the album or the proghead.

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Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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