The Machine The MachineRed Head
Ginger hair. Red numbers. Red hot talent. Rosso profondo. Matt Edwards always bets on red, even though sometimes black wins. If he were a bomb expert, he would always cut the red cable, even if the blue one was the one to cut. He likes red so much and has body hair so red that it’s hardly any wonder his latest exploit is called “Red Head”. Known where he’s from (Britain, although he’s living in Berlin now) as Radio Slave, Edwards has picked a new disguise, called it The Machine, and started a descent down the mangrove swamps parallel to the river he usually navigates under his most famous moniker. This affair is about collages, and secretes an arty wax that covers the CD case with attractive viscosity. According to the man himself, The Machine is an escape route that allows him to stick his nose deep into a form of making electronic music based on the process of cut and paste, a game of Chinese shadow play and impressionist contemplation which, on the purely musical side, possesses an intoxicating magic. And I say purely musical because this CD can’t only be heard, you can see it, too. The disc comes with an experimental short film from the Japanese Jigoku collective and every song is linked to an image chosen by Australian pop artists Misha Hollenbach. An artistic concept, in short, that will have the hipster parish drooling and will leave those who, like yours truly, don’t understand why on earth electronic music always has to be associated with visual art and avant-garde graphic design, completely indifferent (what do you want me to say? My mum always said “ boy, don’t you ever trust veejays, hipsters and designers, in that order”).
Blunders aside, the music –which is the only thing I’m interested in–, shines very brightly and confirms the fact that Matt Edwards is a stylish creator, an extremely elegant illusionist capable of mending a sonic quilt that sounds like one piece, like a amniotic bundle one can only escape from crying and moaning like a newly born, once digested the track list, using very different patches and sounds. The first movement, “Continental Drift”, is a relaxing boat ride on a lake of liquid helium: 10 minutes of ambient for ethernauts. Edwards works us into a state of mental floatation highly recommendable to calm the spirit down on one of those days you would like to get a gun, walk into a McDonald’s and shoot the place up. After the calm, he accelerates the biorhythms with “Opening Ceremony”, fourteen minutes of minimaloid tribalism, Martian tam-tam, Africanisms and up-tempo electro-house, all perfectly sewn together on his sewing machine. He fiercely continues to apply risky stitches and collages on “Leopard Skin”, a five-minute roll-out that stuffs the listener with ultra-repetitive samples, a percussive arrhythmia that reeks of angina and a very special state of tension/hypnosis.
And the best is yet to come, you get the impression that the machine is just warming up and, when the horror-core of “Spell Bound” comes in, the album’s motors start to roar with all their might. Tune. It’s scary, and leans on a jazz drum that tickles your nerves. It freezes your body with some samples of spectral voices and laments. The density of this track can almost be chewed, as if it were a piece of poisoned salted tuna. And he unleashes another feat of lo-fi house on “Talking Dolls”, on which he further explores shamanic percussion and far-away voices. Hell, halfway through the track there’s a break that could pass for the climax of a voodoo ceremony (the only thing lacking is Lisa Bonet dancing frantically with a chicken with its throat slit in her hand). Edwards finishes the Tahitian mass with another ultra-baroque track of lethargic house, layers and layers of jungle mantras, spiritualist effects and weird tambourines, leading you during fifteen very short minutes to absolute ecstasy that will get you all up from your graves. Welcome to the Church of The Machine.