MASCHINE - Rubidium
Originally called Concrete Lake, band founder, guitarist and vocalist Luke Machin soon changed the band name to Maschine, which sound logical considering the proximity to his last name. Machin and bass player Daniel Mashal used to play together in Andy Tillison's The Tangent, and apparently were encouraged by their wise old mentor to start their own band.
My first run through their debut album Rubidium left me with a lacklustre impression, but I stayed resilient and gave the record some more run-throughs, which proved to be just the right approach at this truly inspiring progressive rock record. The band consists of five musicians who are all in their mid-twenties, so a rather young bunch of kids to play this genre. But that doesn't mean that they don't understand their trade. Far from it! Luke Machin used to be a student of guitar hero Guthrie Govan, which gives him guitar shredder qualities, but otherwise he is deeply influenced by British pop proggers and used to perform with Swedish prog metal band Pain Of Salvation. All of this, plus his years of playing in The Tangent and with Andy Tillison, have left their traces in Maschine's sound.
The album starts with the ten minute long opener The Fallen, a song that on the surface feels like a rather typical exercise in prog acrobatics, but once you dig a little deeper, you'll come to understand how skilfully these five youngsters combine shredding math parts with retro and neo prog elements, by matter-of-factly cladding in actually a rather catchy structure. What a good way to start your first record! This is followed by the eight minute long title track. This is a darker, moodier and more atmospheric song, although that doesn't mean it doesn't show off the musicians' skills later on. And then things become really enlightening. Cubixstro not only has a weird title, but this nine minute piece actually manages to marry progressive rock to sunny Samba rhythms. Invincible is another track that slightly crosses the ten minute border, and it is here where the band tries its best to relive the nostalgic warm sounds of early day progressive music. Especially guest musicians Marie-Eve de Gaultier with her vocal and flute performance adds an undeniable Genesis vibe. Venga is a comparably short song at only six minutes, and combines a prog metal vibe plus screamed vocals with a really catchy melody. It is here where one might feel reminded of Pain Of Salvation. The album ends with Eyes (Parts 1 and 2) that together make it to nearly a quarter hour. Both start with the same tinkling melody in three quarter time signature, before giving it all over to their trademark prog antics.
The songs on this album have all been composed in the last five years, and maybe that's why this debut record sounds so mature. Apart from Luke Machin's fine guitar playing, I also want to point out Daniel Mashal's soulful bass parts that manage everything from mellifluous melody lines to crunchy slap parts. At times his performance reminded me of German prog band Sieges Even, but that might only be a coincidence.
Let us hope that Maschine will get all the attention their great music deserves, and also that they will be able to come up with another such great album, even if they may not have another five years of composing time. This is really a band to look out for.