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(53:22, Progressive Gears)
TRACK LIST: 1. Armistice Day 1:34 2. Weimar 10:40 3. The Cannons Cry 4:18 4. Heavy Water 8:36 5. Airfield On Sunwick (For Wojtek) 6:11 6. Black Science 8:17 7. UXB 4:59 8. Noise To Signal 8:47 LINEUP: Craig West - vocals, bass Rob Coleman - guitars Brian Holmes - piano, synths Jake Rendell - guitars, vocals Ken Coulter - drums With: Jakub Olejnik - vocals Jenny Gauvreau - backing vocals Chris Belsito - backing vocals Josh Norling - sax
Prolusion. Canadian band MACHINES DREAM was formed back in 2012, and from 2013 and onward they have released new material at a steady pace. Three studio albums have seen the light of day so far. "Black Science" from 2017 is the most recent of these, and was released through UK label Progressive Gears.
Analysis. Machines Dream is one of those bands that explore the more commercially popular aspects of progressive rock. They are fond of dark atmospheres made in something of a Pink Floyd manner, and are also aware of and use some of the more appealing aspects of classic era neo progressive rock. In sum the music is neither, but has aspects that may well appeal to both of those audiences. This is a production where something of a key characteristic is that just about nothing is dramatic. No impact riffs of note, no stark contrasts or shearing sounds, no dominant vocals adding grand emotional statements. Everything is neat and tied down, smooth in general, with some sharp edges here and there but used to add additional bite rather than to cut. The acoustic and electric guitar combination us used extensively throughout, with a careful keyboard presence on top. Soft, subtly hoarse vocals provides a subtle contrast in between, and the songs themselves tends to alternate between gentler and harder edged sections. Typically a bass and keyboards driven calm sequence with dampened electric, careful acoustic guitar or both present, set off against a more majestic arrangement with keyboards and guitar riffs combining to create that rich, alluring type of arrangement that is something of a progressive rock specific sound. In this case with a band that skip back and forth between a late 70's Floydian expression and one with a closer tie to 80's neo progressive rock, with a few flirts and nods in the direction of later acts such as Porcupine Tree. Perhaps a tad too laid back in delivery at times, although that will mainly be a question of taste. This one is a subtle album on many levels. Dark, but subtle.
Conclusion. "Black Science" comes across as a production with a broad potential reach for me, the happy marriage between late 70's Floyd and mid 80's neo progressive rock, explored in a relaxed and almost distanced manner. Subtle hints rather than stark contrasts is the band's choice when expressing themselves, and while there is a bit of an edge here it's not a cutting one. Progressive rock as explored in a subtly dark and carefully ominous atmosphere, and worth taking a look at by the audiences described.
Progmessor: April 29th, 2018
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