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String Driven Thing - The Machine That Cried CD (album) cover

THE MACHINE THAT CRIED

String Driven Thing

 

Prog Folk

3.45 | 48 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!

As crazy as it may sound, Charisma (you know, that famous label ;-) did not believe in this record in its original intended form and asked for the record to be safer. This from the label that produced some of the best progressive music of the times may sound hard to believe; but if you are to listen to it, the album is strange enough that it was certainly no safe bet and pretexting album length reasons. But given their earlier critically well-received album, this could pass as a lack of faith in the artistes they were pushing. And as I usually loathe the WWR/SPM label for blatant exploitation records, here comes one of the rare exceptions where they convinced Chris Adams to play the longer and previously rejected title track.

Right from the opening 6-min+ Heartfeeder, you know that the album is going to be a proghead-pleaser filled with Smith's great violin works, which sometimes used as a fiddle-type of play. But to get further thrills, this progressive dude will have to put up with the only weaker track of the album, the AOR-esque To see You. Just after that one slight weakness is a wild and demented Night Club where again Smith pulls in some remarkable lines. While Sold Down The River might appear calmer, this is deceptively so as the Adams couple pulls some superb vocals underlined by Smith's violin, but hubby Chris has some almost blood-curling screams. Splendid and stunning stuff.

The quieter Travelling provides a breath of fresh air, but will not release your attention as its superb beauty can only keep you under the spell. People On The Street is in the same vein sometimes reminding the superb acid-folk of Spirogyra, just get a load of Wilson's great bass play. By the third calmer track, The House, one start to wish that the madness of the debut would start again, because the album is now in great danger of losing its great start. Fortunately from the first note of the title track, you know that the special eerie feel is back and the excellent closer River Of Sleep is the track that got short-ended, but on CD is now restored to its full length. And guys believe me, that when I tell you it is a full shame to have omitted this part, it is the understatement of this month. This part is nothing short of stunning, eerily beautiful drawing shivers down your spine and the missing section almost triples the duration time of this superb closer.

With this third album, SDT reached their apex and toured for over a year in Continental Europe (no success at home) and after an exhaustive German tour (where they had to finish as a quartet), the only two remaining members, the Adams couple will leave the group letting Graham Smith alone at the helm and starting the band over from scratch. While the group would record two more albums for the same charisma label, it would simply not have the same feeling as its previous incarnation. One of the better examples of progressive folk rock, this album along with its predecessor is a must-hear, although it might not be for everyone. Stunning at times, this music (and its weird insect close-up artwork) is certainly another excellent example of Charisma's works although it is a little sad they did not make the extra effort in terms of that track.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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