Review: The Machine ‘Wave Cannon’

The Machine put in some solid years helping establish a European heavy psych sound that continues to flourish both with bands squarely dug into the classicism of the form and bands that are pushing the form into new shapes. I kept a close ear to their particular style of fuzzed Hendrix-ian stoner psych from Solar Corona in 2009 through to 2015’s Offblast!

The Machine 'Wave Cannon'
The Machine ‘Wave Cannon’ Artwork

I recall there being some voices at the time (including in less enlightened moments, my own) that may have muttered dismissive crap about derivative stoner bands, however, it is clear listening back to those records, in that early 21st century scene there was a lot of creative work happening, leaving a significant musical legacy.

I’m sure however that David Eering (guitars and vocals) has not got a fresh rhythm section together in order to be a ‘legacy act’, and the mellow drawl of Reversion stakes a strong claim in a distinctive languid be-grunged territory. Heavy under the weight of their own fuzz, The Machine keep true to their previous album title Calmer Than You Are (2012), fully finding that sweet spot of warm tone and drawling melody, such as Glider’s gentle climb and collapse.

finding that sweet spot of warm tone and drawling melody…

Of course, there are moments of urgency in the record – as much as they may suit a lazy evening on the sofa – these songs are also ready for spilling beers in darkened rooms. This is to some extent the tension that The Machine exploit to keep the songs from settling down to sleep all together – there’s a strange contrast in the embracing warm tone set against the mild unease of grunge downer-ism. Eering’s voice has a part to play in this, but it is not unlike what bands such as Snail also reached towards, albeit from a different starting point.

At times Wave Cannon feels it is maybe a bit too heavy in all that ‘90s flannel, slouching along with the red eyes and listless limbs of an extended coffee shop session. It would be unfair however to cast this as a lazy-day record, entirely lacking the scorch of the band’s earlier work, and escape velocity is easily reached when working with such an effortlessly big sound.

It’s not yet clear to me where Wave Cannon will fit in The Machine’s deceptively varied discography, and in my mind, it may not find a place where I reach for it ahead of the more familiar stuff from the first half of the last decade. There will be fresh ears though for whom this will be a starting point to look back on the development of a band, a sound, and a current record of creative endeavour.

Label: Majestic Mountain Records
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Scribed by: Harry Holmes