The Machine in the Garden
~reviewed by Jezebel
Receiving this fifth release from The machine in the Garden was a delight as I had heard quite a bit about them, but had never really consciously heard them. This was my chance to find another great band.
Great band? Good band with excellent possibilities ahead of them is how I would put it. Described as having "soaring guitars, tribal rhythms and electronic sweeps," tMitG is an interesting combination of gothic rock, ethereal, electronic and ambient music mixed together with a spoon of inspiration.
I don't think "Mask" was the best choice for an opening track as it tends to drag a bit and really doesn't start the CD off with anything put a whine. A good song wrongly placed.
"Outside", the second track, doesn't exactly pick up the tempo but it definitely picks up something. A softness and an unique sound which is captivating and haunting. I hear in Summer's voice all the influences that she has mentioned in interviews, especially Monica Richards from Faith and the Muse. Monica has more strength in her voice, but I can hear within Summer the same talent and ability of reaching and sustaining notes in such a way that denotes strength. I think it's partially a production choice, as Summer's vocal sometimes gets lost in the swirling sound of synths and guitars.
We move on to "Time", the third track which opens with some interesting and provocative percussion. It takes on this description at first because of the tone of the first two tracks, therefore, to hear the sound almost wakes you out of the trance the first two had put you in. Unfortunately, as good as the song is, it lulls you back to your trance, yet perhaps on a different level. Hypnotic, yes; haunting, yes; but I don't if that makes an exceptional track anymore in the ethereal/darkwave/gothic genre. It does make a good track.
"Wonderland" is supposed to be a club friendly dance track and there is within it the possibility for it to be one, with some more mixing, as it lacks the depth and layering that would really make it able to fill a dance floor. Although many slower songs do get the dance floor packed (The Cure is the obvious example of this), as a dancer, this song lacks the push to get me onto a dance floor. There is something raw about the production, rather lean to it, which I do like about it. But because of that it lacks the punch, the "oomph" that songs that fill a dance floor have.
"Icarus" starts out lovely. A great strong beat. A bit of electronic tripping over the keys, but then we return to the slow drag of sound that has been too predominant in the preceding tracks. Individually, the songs are great, but linked together, I am starting to want them to "get on with it" and pick up the tempo. It's all one very sweet, slightly variated, completely slow tempo with bits of "Wonderland" being the exception.
"Seek" is the other self-described dance track and the album and to this, I completely agree. Still a little bare, but with a good remix filling it in, this could definitely get people on the tracks. A great beat (which sounds slightly pre-programmed) to keep the bottom half of one going with the swirly sound of the melody to get those ethereal arms carving into the air.
"Photographic" is the cover they have chosen (seems a trend to have at least one cover on any given CD). Any early Depeche Mode song (written by Vince Clarke off the Speak and Spell album), it is old enough that many would not know the song. It also does fit quite well with their style.
All in all, tMitG is a good band. Solid vocals, solid music. I don't think it is "rich or "compelling," but a general and good CD which will be a happy part of my collection. I think they do suffer from proper production which would give them the depth that I think their sound would be benefited by, their sound seeming to need more complexities.
Again - a solid album. A good album. A good band. But I am left empty for the possibilities.
The Machine in the Garden are:
Middle Pillar: www.middlepillar.com