No Machine: A Terrible Thing Arion Records AR0701
It’s not often you get a straight down the line rock album that’s worth its salt nowadays. So when comes along it’s well worth shouting about. And I’m hollerin’ out about this one. It stands up on its own without having to pay lip service to the trendy-but-mostly-useless guitar bands currently favoured by the fickle commercial music press – I mean, f’rinstance just what do The Killers do that can possibly warrant them being given headliner status at Glasto. No, no pretentions to emulate such dross from No Machine. Just good music driven by that old thing called taste, a love of our cultural history and some fine musicianship.
I suppose you need a few clues as to the ballpark we find ourselves in here. Well, it’s pretty difficult to find direct comparisons, but I think we could be in the general area of prog and funk. There are some pretty fine jazzy grooves going down as well as impressive song structures. I can’t really comment on the lyrics as they’re the last things I pay attention to but the delivery seems to be considered, moody and uses the somewhat gravelly voice of vocalist Al Rivers to position the sound somewhere between, say, Traffic and Bruce Springsteen. Not that the sound is at all dated – such fine music is pretty well ageless. True, the multiple keyboard framework created by Emil Rivers on piano and Daniel – keyboards and organ – puts it firmly in some sort of prog/jazz-funk camp, the production is quite reminiscent of Prince’s more rock oriented work. You can see I’m casting around for obvious direct comparisons, and my difficulty is a mark of the group’s solid grounding in an number of quality diverse influences that have led them to distil a sound which is theirs and theirs alone.
Don’t get me wrong now – I’m not saying we have a totally new sound here that’s gonna take the world by storm laying waste all that came before. No Machine is a solid workmanlike outfit that is going to have to carry on working hard to rise above the crowd. But there are plenty of signs here that they’re capable of carving a niche for themselves. This will in time mean that they will have a recognisable sound that will be associated with them and a good solid following of real music lovers who will support throughout what promises to be an enduring career in a tough business.