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BELIEF IN THE MACHINE

Rick Miller

Crossover Prog


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Rick Miller Belief in the Machine album cover
3.94 | 66 ratings | 6 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Correct to the Core (11:35)
2. That Inward Eye (Part 1) (2:22)
3. Belief in the Machine (2:02)
4. The Land and the Sea (2:11)
5. The Need to Believe (5:39)
6. Prelude to the Trial (4:32)
7. Binary Breakdown (3:40)
8. That Inward Eye (Part 2) (3:28)
9. Media Gods (incl. The Awakening) (4:22)
10. The Trial (9:55)

Total Time 49:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Miller / performer, composer & producer

With:
- Sarah Young / flute
- Mateusz Swoboda / cello
- Barry Haggarty / Stratocaster
- Will / drums, percussion

Releases information

Rick Miller: "This is my most recent album, in the genre of what I would call Progressive Rock. That term defining the type of music that was made famous throughout the 70's by bands such as Genesis, The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd."

Artwork: Wisconsinart/Dreamstime

Format: CD, Digital
February 5, 2020 (Digital) March/April (CD)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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RICK MILLER Belief in the Machine ratings distribution


3.94
(66 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
15%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
52%
Good, but non-essential (24%)
24%
Collectors/fans only (8%)
8%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

RICK MILLER Belief in the Machine reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Citing his inspirations as being on the atmospheric side of prog rock (Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Steve Hackett, etc.), Canadian Rick Miller set out way back in 1983 to create music on his own to reflect that sound. Over the years, he has released many solo albums. Over the past few years, he has made it a pattern to release an album every two years, so in February of 2020, he released the digital version of "Belief in the Machine" with plans to release the CD around March or April of the same year. This album runs close to 50 minutes and features 10 tracks with Miller playing almost all of the instruments, but he has help from a few people like Sarah Young on flute, Mateusz Swoboda on Cello, Barry Haggarty on Stratocaster, and someone known as Will on drums and percussion.

"Correct to the Core" (11:35) starts off the album with his preferred style of beautifully crafted atmospheric music, the cello and bass standing out at first creating a nice beginning landscape. The music builds and a guitar amps up the intensity a bit. After a nice solo, Rick begins to sing, and right away you notice a resemblance to the airy vocals that are similar to David Gilmour. The music is actually built quite well as a moderate tempo allows the vocal passage to float along. By 5 minutes, the music moves into a smoother, yet somewhat darker sound. The music, right off the bat, is quite appealing and it definitely would be quite appealing to lovers of Pink Floyd, especially in their later years. There should be no time needed to adapt to the music as it is very accessible, the music staying nice and smooth all the way through this track, but still changing in atmosphere with synths sharing equal time with the guitar, but getting the center stage later on in the track. It's nice and not challenging, drawing you in right away.

"That Inward Eye Part 1" (2:22) works together with the second part to bring the center part of the album together with a nice, idyllic instrumental with a lot of flute. "Belief in the Machine" (2:02) begins right away with the same style of vocalization, airy and melancholic. The melody is a lot like the beginning track, the vocals staying in a safe range, with some short burst of guitar in the middle. Another short vocal track "The Land and the Sea" uses a tonal percussion that works as the foundation for the more complex lyrics. The feeling now is of an upcoming uneasiness. "The Need to Believe" smooths things out again with a lighter than air guitar/synth interchange that gives the music a feeling of symphonic bliss. It's a nice texture that feels like something you could float away on. Now, you get the Moody Blues (later years) vibe, sort of similar to "Driftwood", but with guitar instead of sax. After those last, short and somewhat choppy tracks, this one is a welcome and better established, developed track.

The airy vocals can start to sound too much the same, even though they are nice in a way that tributes Miller's influences, but is heartfelt and not a copied sound. Just when you start to think that though, the second half of the album becomes more "instrumentally" centered. "Prelude to the Trial" (4:32) begins with a foreboding tone established by wind effects, a cello and echoing keys. Spoken word recordings fade in and out in the background as the music becomes dissonant and eerie, then things smooth out a bit and become more relaxing. Deep, Floydian guitar starts to come in with a tapping rhythm that solidifies as it continues. "Binary Breakdown" (3:40) grows from the former track with a sawing cello building intensity and then reaching its peak quickly as the guitar smoothes things over. Things pass back and forth between the cello and guitar while a nice beat is established, eventually it is dissembled and we're left with more atmospheric and flowing synths. "That Inward Eye Part 2" (3:28) includes some wordless vocals (sounds female) and then spoken word while the flute establishes its former melody from before, being pastoral again. Later, soft, Alan Parsons Project style vocals lend an airy texture.

Another instrumental "Media Gods (Including The Awakening)" creates a cinematic feels as the synths and percussion build an orchestral flair, the feeling is mysterious with an anxious edge. The flute lets some flourishes float around the atmosphere of the background. An acoustic guitar brings in a feeling of resolution and the flute helps to even things all out again. This switches from major to minor key again as it flows into the last track "The Trial" (9:56). Simple keys act as a foundation to the vocals that start off right away. The music continues to portray some story of sorts, with dramatic turns of the music moving from lovely, floating passages to darker and heavier sections, more spoken word at times and so on. The lyrics seem to indicate that paranoia is involved, the singer believe the police are coming for him for something he claims he didn't do. After four minutes, a beat is finally established, and we get that APP feeling again, nice floating and synth heavy music. Vocals return before 6 minutes with a more direct instrumental backing with atmospheric guitar and synth.

This is a pretty good album and the music definitely reflects that of the stated influences. I can't help but feel that some kind of development is missing especially in the shorter tracks in the middle. The beginning and ending tracks are great and more epic, but "The Trial" almost feels like it could have been a much bigger concept, probably even taking up an album with its ideas and quick changing themes. I think most listeners will be attracted to the music right away, but unfortunately, it tends to lose its punch after repeated listening. The music is well produced, though, and quite enjoyable. For now, I think it deserves a 4 star rating, but time will tell if it can retain that (in either direction, better or worse).

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The endless enigma (hello ELP) of progressive rock continues to prove itself as a valid reality, the sheer size of its history and ongoing legacy remain astounding. Even after 50 years , I still unearth hidden jewels that I kick myself for not picking up on earlier, but I understand that this is what happens when you have a global phenomenon that will forever offer new discoveries. Such is the case with Canadian composer and multi-instrumentalist Rick Miller, who has created 14 releases since 1984, the first 2 being more electronic relaxation music but veering fully into prog with ''Dreamtigers'' back in 2004. Ever since then, Rick has been pumping out albums at a steady pace (average every second year), using the same seasoned crew, namely one of Canada's top session guitarists in Barry Haggerty , Sarah Young on flute , cellist Mateusz Swoboda and his friend Will on drums. His style of choice happens to mirror mine: a romantic, emotional, heart-felt melancholic, cinematographic soundtrack that can be dark, brooding, haunting and focused on powerful melodies that seep into the spirit and conjure deep images. Having seen the glowing reviews on PA, I took the jump to read some of them and I realized I had been missing out on something right down my alley (the power of reviews from trusted sources). I recently purchased his latest ''Belief in the Machine'' and I am red-faced with shame, as this is quite the find, being exactly the type of prog I have always adored and continue to do so to this day.

The artwork for his albums is quite evocative and this one is no exception, as it mirrors the fabulous music inside, Rick showing no mufty-flufty tendency to gently entice, going straight for the jugular with the epic 11 and half minute opener ''Correct to the Core'' which lays out all the characteristics of his musical style: a somber cello slithering into the soul, Floydian textures that seek to haunt (namely vocal sound effects), a forlorn bass rumble and Gilmourian flourishes , all coalescing into a hard binary beat and an explosive and mesmerizing guitar rant. Rick's hushed voice takes centerstage, crafting the savvy melody that will guide this track through multiple developments, piano leading the way, bass following obediently behind. Clever lyrics parallel the crafty arrangements, everyone getting to solo: guitar, cello and flute, a perfect 'mise en place' that sets that table for the amazing ride this album is.

A trio of shorter pieces seek to expand the sonic palette , first up the flute-driven gorgeousness of ''That Inward Eye pt1'' which has a melody that is irreproachably magnificent , then the brief title track, a straightforward , guitar-fed rocker with a simple gait and ended by ''The Land and the Sea' , a brooding , percussive setting that serves , in my opinion, to set up the masterpiece track, the devastating and immediate classic prog of ''The Need to Believe'', a hybrid mix of Pink Floyd and Moody Blues , owner of a crushingly evocative melody that with bring tears of happiness to the romantic-inclined progger, armed with a Barry Haggerty Stratocaster foray of the finest vintage and a chorus to match: celestial, searing, hopeful, melancholic and downright beautiful.

From this moment on, the experimental side takes over, offering up cinematographic instrumental mind music of the highest order, with electronic piano a la 'No Quarter', cello, vaporous synth clouds and the subtle yet pervasive guitar interference , all displayed on ''Prelude to the Trial'' . Another instrumental piece ''Binary Breakdown'' is in contrast wilder and more energetic, adorned with swirling rhythms, cello blasts, looping bass, hard drums, slippery synths and echoing guitar flashes that finally evolves into a glittering axe solo. The melodic content is clearly defined and not a random jam, full of noodles. ''That Inward Eye Pt2 '' reprises the earlier flute melody, a welcome return to pastoral heaven, as cello, string synths and a sweet vocal all merge to create quite the melancholic feel. The choir effects are splendidly detailed, a gentle slice of symphonic beauty.

The angst-laden gloom of 'Media Gods (including the Awakening)' starts out as a symphonic holocaust of gothic choir, devilish flute and cello spurts , synthesized swirls and then an acoustic guitar introduces an atmospheric expanse , the Sarah Young flute nearby as an enthusiastic ally, and excellent intro into the final epic piece, the 10 minute 'The Trial' which elevates the proceedings to exhilarating heights as it spans the spectrum, from gentle to exacerbated, in dealing with creepy lyrics involving paranoia (as per the spoken words), as the puerile piano ambles, the orchestral melodies colliding with more poignant fervour, laden with electronic effects as the harsh beat kicks in, relentless. The vocals return, guitar twirling in a frenzy, with a choir melancholy that really hits the spot, as the attention to detail create levels of enjoyment that keeps the listener on its ears (or toes!).

This album has been a truly gratifying experience, chock full of amazingly crafted melodies, a perfect introduction to a musician I fully intend to help complete my collection, as this is right down my alley. I have already ordered his Falling Through Rainbows release from 2009, which I must say is just as enjoyable. As it stands, this is my favourite 2020 album up to now and I just cannot wait to hear more from my fellow Canadian! Rick Miller needs to be appreciated by a much wider audience.

4.5 System credos

Review by progpositivity
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Almost everything about this album reminds me of Pink Floyd's output from the 1970's and later.

1) There is a very smoothly spacey and atmospheric layer of keyboards throughout. 2) Keyboard leads are very similar to those heard on Floyd's classic album "Wish You Were Here". 3) Most of the electric guitar leads sing and soar expressively in the style of David Gilmore. 4) Even the lead vocals are lushly understated with a timbre surprisingly similar to that of David Gilmore. 5) There is a certain melancholy vibe which resides in a moody territory close to that of classic Pink Floyd

This music has some differences from Pink Floyd that are worth noting.

1) Spoken word passages will call to mind memories of The Moody Blues. 2) Some of the passages which feature flute performances by Sarah Young may evoke memories of The Moody Blues or Camel (but not Jethro Tull IMO). 3) On this album, Rick does a better job of presenting a coherent story line for this concept album than Pink Floyd ever did. 4) Despite a similar melancholy vibe shared with Pink Floyd, this music from Rick Miller feels more fueled by a social stance which believes that a "better fate" can be achieved if citizens heed warnings from artistic works which explore depictions of oppression resulting from misunderstandings of and mistreatment of non-conformity. (In contrast, Pink Floyd's music sometimes depicts struggles with undercurrents of sarcasm, bitterness, fear, hopelessness, self-loathing and insanity.) Thus, this album, while weighty in subject matter and stylistically similar to Pink Floyd, is more likely to leave you with a smile on your face and hope in your heart than a replay of DSotM or WYWH.

This album is very well produced and mixed. The instrumental performances are delivered effectively.

That said, listening to this album felt more like a tour of a very "well trodden" classic prog pathway than it did an exploration of anything very new or different.

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Canadian Rick Miller is back with his fourteenth album, two years after 'Delusional'. This is very much a continuation of the change in style he has been working on recently where there is much more of a rock element within his music, and his band is the same as the last album apart from this time around only Barry Haggarty provides guitar, as Kane Miller is no longer involved. Given Kane has been a mainstay since Rick's fourth album, 2004's 'Dreamtigers', that is quite a shift. But Haggarty's relationship with Rick goes back even further, while flautist Sarah Young has also been involved for more than 15 years. Both drummer Will and cellist Mateusz Swoboda also have a long history with Rick, who describes this album as being "in the genre of what I would call Progressive Rock. That term defining the type of music that was made famous throughout the 70's by bands such as Genesis, The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd."

To be honest, that is a pretty good description, Rick (who provides vocals and all other instrumentation) used to be thought of as more dreamscape and cinematic, yet while there are still huge Pink Floyd influences within this, there is also plenty of the more dreamy Eighties The Moody Blues. It is an incredibly easy album to listen to, with strong guitars throughout which provide a welcome edge as only a Stratocaster can do, but this contrasts against the rest of the music which is far more sedate and relaxed.

This is the eighth release I have reviewed from Rick over the years, and I am surprised he isn't more widely known as he continues to deliver album after album of great progressive rock music in a more relaxed tone, and is someone I enjoy hearing each and every time. Just seeing the name Rick Miller on a CD makes me know that here is something of quality, and it is not often that can be said these days. I have never given Rick a poor review (I really ought to seek out the early albums at some point), and there isn't going to be any change this time, as this is yet another superb relaxed album from a wonderful musician and arranger. He provides great songs, knows exactly the vocal style it needs, and brings it all together each and every time. Superb.

Latest members reviews

5 stars RICK MILLER is a Canadian musician and composer who plays progressive rock music as he likes to define it, referring to GENESIS, PINK FLOYD and also citing THE MOODY BLUES. PORCUPINE TREE is also often spoken, perhaps their first compositions. An airy, fruity, melodic, sweet music with a melanch ... (read more)

Report this review (#2376173) | Posted by alainPP | Saturday, May 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is another excellent release by Rick Miller. I am new to his music, and have been taking in many of the albums at the same time. Belief in the Machine is up there with his best releases like Heart Of Darkness, Dark Dreams, and Immortal Remains. Majority of his music is top notch, and Belief In ... (read more)

Report this review (#2316284) | Posted by javajeff | Saturday, February 15, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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