Tag Archives: Machines In Heaven

Machines In Heaven – Phenomenology [Hot Gem]

Bookended by two tracks of lush melody, this second album by Glasgow’s Machines In Heaven is somewhat excellent: both the first and the last are full and warm electronic outings; in between there’s another ten tunes that take several interesting and unexpected turns.

Perhaps things are signposted by the closing bars of ‘Silfra’ giving way from all-enveloping, ‘Sueno Latino’-type vibes into fuzzy guitar: not the plucked variety so beloved in Balearic circles, this is excitingly distorted stuff.

As has been showcased at recent gigs – they are excellent live by the way – there’s a bigger, more expansive and, dare one say, festival-friendly sound on the cards for the threesome: that’s not to say there isn’t pure and shonky techno-tinged production on songs like ‘Let’s Hang Out At Pluto’ but, stage heroics and all, there’s a pleasing lack of stricture about the band.

It’s dance music but they’ll throw whatever into the mix, up to and including lobbing a curve-ball like ‘8034’, which even tiptoes around elements of krautrock; a touch tenuous on your writer’s part perhaps, but it’s damned effective and may be the highlight of the album.

Perhaps hard at times to know if this is a band in transition or simply a band prepared to embrace different aesthetics and put them out there because, well because, why not?

One hopes the latter: the glorious stripped and thumping music these boys can produce is great but there’s also a thrill in the unexpected: whilst a track such as the atmospheric and dubby ‘Ruix Con’, which almost sounds like an early offering from Glasgow’s own Soma Records before they went full on techno, is pretty faultless and a pleasure to hear, there’s also a breadth here, an ambition not to be tied down.

Might make the purists bristle (in the best possible sense), but that has to be half to the point of making music and besides, the shock of the new, even if only within the microcosm of a single album, is always a good thing.

All in, it’s at times gentle and exquisite with the lightest of touches around ambient synths and sounds… and then absolute take me to the dancefloor grooves; eclectic stuff unafraid to turn left where right is the road more travelled.

It may feel a touch all over the place at points, but perhaps that is just about getting one’s head around the unpredictable.

By the time all too short but beautiful closer ‘Ragman Dolls’ rolls into town, sounding like a distantly remembered riff and filtered vocal from a lost dawn somewhere, you realise you’ve been on quite a ride and there’s a lasting impression.

Clever boys, clever record, clever label (the rest of the roster is well worth exploring) and most intriguing to see a sound morphing and evolving like this: it’s what it’s all about after all; never stand still.

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Words: Vosne Malconsorts

Sunday Circus 8th Birthday at The Old Fruitmarket, 30/8/15

Esteemed promoters and Glasgow institution Sunday Circus celebrate their eighth year of survival, indeed thrive(…al), with tonight’s rampaging shindig.

Only the moaning of a miserable old bastard prevented this event taking place at the unlikely location of the Kelvingrove Bandstand: I get to be so candid because I’m also a miserable bastard who resides there, only I wasn’t the one ludicrously complaining about the noise from a venue with an early curfew operated only a handful of times each summer.

Shame on you, sir, shame on you.

Incidentally, the gig that seemingly drove this joyless tosspot into apoplexy was Echo and the Bunnymen and they sounded uncharacteristically excellent from the pub down the road… and I don’t even like them much.

Anyway, Fruitmarket it is… and what a wonderful space we are plonked into: only been here once before and that was for roughly ten minutes before being lobbed out the athletes’ party after the closing of the Commonwealth Games last year.

With the old fixtures and fittings speaking of commerce gone by, the ghosts of the past meld with ghosts of the future; digital spectres of machines and aesthetics yet ahead of our time.

Which brings us (a touch too neatly) to openers Machines in Heaven – and what a brilliant performance they deliver: 45 minutes or so covering Mondkopf-type brutal ambience and juddering beats all the way up to four to the floor thumpers; enjoyed from a rickety old table and chairs with me feet up; what more could you want at the end of the weekend?

Really worth keeping an eye on these Glasgow fellows – it’s pitch perfect and rather impressive; more please.

After that we ramp up several gears as the crowd filter in – including the inevitable, still at it from last night, contingent – and, despite the relatively cavernous environs, the intoxicating claustrophobia of house, techno and sweat takes over.

Fine sport is to be had observing the dressed up lassies in vertiginous heels attempting to scale the gloriously weathered and uneven floor but the, at times thunderous, music blasting all and sundry eclipses even that jollity – and I speak as someone who enjoys the sight of someone ending up on their arse.

Affi Koman and Tricky deliver solid as ever grooves of dubbed out European house and tech before Soma artist Petrichor envelopes us with some warmly blissed out Balearic sounds (emotively suggesting the end of summer) and a whole handful of straight up bangers and forays into 303 acid delirium; indeed I’m informed by a friendly fellow at the bar that everything is banging and I’m inclined to agree.

Solo by this point in the evening it’s still a dance-along romp powered by a sound system that, whatever it may slightly lack in clarity, more than makes up for in raw and bassy power.

Kompakt’s Michael Mayer offers up a three hour set of pretty wide ranging intensity from Detroit flavours to UK to German to god knows where: all round expert manipulation of the frothy and gradually compressing hoard; a thing of beauty and by the time Inner City’s perennial ‘Big Fun’ leaps out the speakers it’s a moment of pure joy – who doesn’t feel a surge upon hearing that piece of perfection?

Answer: no one… unless you fail to, in which case you are dead or tasteless; in fact stop reading this right now if you are so afflicted, you’re banned.

Excellent stuff and a suitably cathartic end to a pish summer; though the notion of hearing crashing electronic music at the lonely Bandstand in the West End with our blankets and flasks of tea will for now remain tantalisingly out of reach; boo to sour-faced gits with all the rounded cultural appreciation of a damp squirrel in a bin.

Actually strike that, I’m being unfair… to squirrels.

Long live Sunday Circus and all who sail within her: a jewel to be treasured in Glasgow’s illustrious clubland.

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Words: Vosne LePro

EPs of 2014

Daniel Mutch – Remedy & Therapy18 Daniel Mutch – Remedy & Therapy

With Remedy & Therapy, Mutch has managed to present us with five remarkable tracks well worth spilling out of any speaker or set of headphones over the winter period and we’d be fools not to oblige.

[review]

So Many Animal Calls – Burden18 So Many Animal Calls – Burden [Bloc+]

So Many Animal Calls are most definitely back, and they state their intent from the off on Burden, with huge sounding guitars and some well thought out, melodic bridge sections. This is a coming of age of So Many Animal Calls, who’s first EP since 2011’s Eulogy is a fine showing of the unique brand of Scottish indie they’re trying to create.

[review]

Foreign Skies – This Human Error18 Foreign Skies – This Human Error

This Human Error is a fierce and talented post-rock torrent that will not leave anyone indifferent. Foreign Skies is one of the best new bands that could be added to this already massive musical Scottish layer’s cake.

[review]

The Great Albatross – Roots14 The Great Albatross – Roots [Count Your Lucky Stars]

Originally from the USA, Wesley Chung of The Great Albatross has been seen bringing his fantastic acoustic music round Glasgow over the last year or so. His debut EP is something that not enough people are talking about; featuring some the of the most fantastic acoustic tracks, with great songwriting and a great voice, The Great Albatross is really something to check out. (Iain Gillon)

Happy Meals – Apero14 Happy Meals – Apero [Night School]

Where Happy Meals’ debut release Apéro differs from their kid targeting meal namesake by providing all the fun and colour without any nastiness. From first listen the organic natural vibe stands out, distinguishing Happy Meals from a majority of lo-fi electronic acts, whose identities often feel too contrived to have any soul.

[review]

Bellow Below – BIG WHOOP14 Bellow Below – Big Whoop[Good Grief]

Following a brief absence, Bellow Below return with a second serving of atmospheric math-rock, in the guise of Big Whoop. Continuing the themes of previous EP, Hooks, in less immediate terms, the band expertly weaves intricate rhythms and melodies with floating vocals throughout. (Kyle McCormick)

[review]

The Monty Hall Problem – Holy14 The Monty Hall Problem – Holy

Holy continued the Glasgow four-piece’s reverberated rock n’ roll momentum, while a couple of high profile support slots will have done their popularity no harm at all.

 

Machines In Heaven – Hindu Milk10 Machines In Heaven – Hindu Milk [Hotgem]

Hindu Milk is a clutter of weird bleeps and bloops tidied into the shape of an awesome electronic EP. While label mates Atom Tree took a more commercial route for their own latest release, Machines in Heaven went in the opposite direction and created something that sounds like a particularly melodic and rhythm-heavy 90’s Gameboy game dipped in production knowledge and a songwriter’s imagination; strange and joyous. (Greg Murray)

[review]

Skinny Dipper – Masks10 Skinny Dipper – Masks [Olive Grove]

Skinny Dipper are “Almost a girl band” because eight of their nine members are female, including their incredible vocalists who supply harmonies in abundance on this EP. In terms of composition you could draw similarities with the traditional aspect of Fat-Suit, this being owed to the jubilant and emotional sounding strings which contribute to an EP that is everything you could want from a Scottish indie-folk-almost-girl-band; really, really beautiful. (Greg Murray)

[review]

Cara Mitchell – Afraid of the Dark10 Cara Mitchell – Afraid of the Dark [AGP]

Folk tales that occupy a sparse and beautiful landscape; Mitchell’s hushed vocals and expressive lyrics combine to enchanting effect. (Brendan Sloan)

[review]

Hector Bizerk – The Fish That Never Swam10 Hector Bizerk – The Fish That Never Swam

From supporting Public Enemy to putting on their own club night, Hector Bizerk have always blazed a trail for Scottish hip hop and now with added bass and horns they might just be the soundtrack to its Saturday night out.

[review]

Polarnecks – Never Heard of Sports9 Polarnecks – Never Heard of Sports

I feel like the title might be a play on words/reference to Modern Baseball, although I can’t be sure; if it is, then it works. They do share a sound, although Polarnecks are heavier and less whiney. Polarnecks sound like everyone’s first favourite band; it’ll be interesting to see how they progress next year. (Alisa Wylie)

[review]

Poor Frisco – Poor Frisco8 Poor Frisco – Poor Frisco

On their eponymous EP, Poor Frisco find themselves channeling classic era Guided By Voices, commendable indeed; a tight and melodious band set firmly in the classic indie rock mold. (Brendan Sloan)

[review]

Nieves – Nieves7 Nieves – Nieves

Nieves first self-titled EP offers listeners a beautifully simple and stripped back record with mature honest lyrics sung in a warm authentic Scottish accent alongside an enchanting piano and softly plucked guitar. The simplicity of this record is what makes it so captivating allowing Brendan Dafters beautiful vocals and heartfelt lyrics get the attention they deserve. (Jess Lavin)

[review]

SHARPTOOTH – Come Cut Me Open4 SHARPTOOTH – Come Cut Me Open [NUMBER4DOOR]

Come Cut Me Open has most of the things I love about music in it: slow guitars, haunting vocals and a hell of an atmosphere. The pace of the album is also a big selling point, if most bands were to write songs like these they’d probably try to speed them up, the fact SHARPTOOTH haven’t done this adds to the EP and makes them stand out from the crowd a bit. (Phil Allen)

[review]

Atom Tree – Clouds4 Atom Tree – Clouds [Hotgem]

A classy and assured young act, producing sounds that are both intimate and expansive. (Brendan Sloan)

[review]

Great Cop – Stay Human4 Great Cop – Stay Human [Struggletown]

I had heard about these guys for a while and I’d always meant to check them out; listening to Stay Human makes me wish I’d done so sooner. It’s a great introduction to the band and pulls you in right away. Though there are only three songs, it’s rammed full of big riffs and staunch vocals; cathartic, obviously Scottish, grimey – but not dirty – punk; also fucking great. (Alisa Wylie)

[review]

Cutty’s Gym – Sick Glass3 Cutty’s Gym – Sick Glass [Bloc+]

Without uttering a word, Cutty’s Gym portrays an unavoidable air of immediacy and anger in their debut EP. Building a following from a string of sweaty live shows, these four tracks present the band as a more exciting, yet wordless, Royal Blood, set to blister into the instrumental big leagues. (Kyle McCormick)

[review]

Tuff Love – Junk2 Tuff Love – Junk [Lost Map]

Junk is a masterpiece of pop and sublime vocal harmonies; the tracks are sparse but everything about every track is memorable. Everything holds together so well and Tuff Love have crafted one of the finest EPs to come from Scotland this year, let’s hope the follow up is just as good. (Phil Allen)

[review]

Pronto Mama – Niche Market1 Pronto Mama – Niche Market [Instinctive Racoon]

Pronto Mama is a band capable of leaving great mood. Niche Market is packed full of charming harmonies, hearty melodies and cheerful brass sure to warm your heart and leave with a smile on your face. (Jess Lavin)

[review]

Machines in Heaven – Hindu Milk [Hotgem]

Hindu Milk is EP number two for Machines In Heaven and it continues from where the first left off, masses of electronic textures weaved together to create quite a distinguished sound.

At just over four minutes long, opening track ‘Edge of the Middle’ is the shortest on the EP and is an almost hectic affair.

I say ‘almost’ because amidst a plethora of counter-melodies and strange sounds there is still a defined sense of groove and control in the bass frequencies that keep everything grounded.

The title track features Kavinsky-style robot vocals and the tension built in the climax of the song releases for a very cool, drawn out conclusion.

‘Voodoo Mechanics’ and ‘Feel Slow’ are two tracks that will do well live and the big finisher, ‘Holy Particles’ is a slow building monster, which is pumped up by a pretty sounding synth, providing the capstone of the EP.

Each song is very distinct in itself but they each still fit into the entire Hindu Milk, which outlines the massive advantage electronic producers have that the sonic possibilities are limited only to the power of their imaginations.

Obviously then, they need to know where to stop and actually compose music rather than indulge in the noises that are interesting for about two listens and this is a skill that Machines In Heaven have clearly honed.

To put it shortly, on this EP, Machines In Heaven demonstrates that they have a sense of melody that is impressive and really quite emotive.

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Words: Greg Murray

Machines In Heaven – bordersbreakdown [Hotgem]

This is an expansive and constantly surprising debut LP from Glasgow-based trio Machines In Heaven.

Following up from last years’ The Glasgow Jihad, Machines In Heaven have been hotly tipped by local industry players and have received Radio One airplay courtesy of Ally McCrae and Vic Galloway.

bordersbreakdown holds up on the promise that their debut EP held, these guys present a diverse long player featuring an excellent range of work of synth-based electronica.

From dancefloor inspired drum loops and brooding synths, to euphoric high moments – bordersbreakdown presents a whole landscape of electronic vibes to explore.

Dark, dubstep inspired ‘The National Monument’ opens the album with a searing synth and bass loop before haunting, muttered vocals and a thick-layered synth section transforms the song.

The trio provide a masterclass in versatility, the driving intro to ‘Be The Media’ ventures into techno, before a beautiful guitar track turns the song into a triumphant moment for the LP.

This is a common theme throughout bordersbreakdown, it’s a constantly transforming album, moving between moods and ambiences almost effortlessly.

At countless points a well-placed guitar or drum track will add a new dimension to the atmosphere half way through a track.

With a huge range of influences evident, the album is best described as a love letter to the development of 80s and 90s electronica, with a real talent for exploring both the uplifting, melodic and dancefloor inspired, rhythmic sides of the genre.

The triumphant, dazzling harmonies on ‘bordersbreakdown’ are truly inspired by the lighter, optimistic moments of 80s rave culture; this is still how every clubber wants to end their night, enveloped in a cheap smoke machine haze and lifted far away by synth magic.

It’s occasionally endearing in drawing on electronic influences, when ‘bordersbreakdown’ finishes there is a throwback to the innocent fascination of B-movie sci-fi, which can only be described as the sound of an intergalactic cruiser taking off.

There are a lot of high points over the course of this LP: the opening chimes used on ‘bordersbreakdown’ suggest a talent for inviting, hook laden instrumental compositions.

Lighter, more chilled out moments of melancholia on tracks like ‘Remembrance’ showcase an instrumental versatility and true talent; as understated guitar licks perfectly punctuate expansive, hovering synth chords and snarey, dance inspired drum loops

‘The Eternal Now’, the ten minute closing track, is ever shifting and, as with the rest of the album, showcases an ability to draw on a huge range of influences capped by an original ear for short and appealing melodic hooks.

A fantastic debut in which Machines In Heaven prove their talent for overlaying a hulking rhythm track with guitar and synth arrangements that change the musical direction into more             experimental, intelligent electronica.

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Words: Tom Deering

Live review: Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival, 26-29/8/13

DTRH2013-012 Continue reading Live review: Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival, 26-29/8/13