Machineri - Machineri
Cape Town-based band Machineri has been rocking the local live music scene since 2008 and has followed this up with the recent release of their self-titled debut album. To look at, the album cover is visually captivating. Its simple yet symbolically suggestive composition invites contemplation before the first note is played and hints at the lost art of the concept album.
If the artwork looks strangely familiar that might be because the man behind the design is the legendary Storm Thorgeson. His other work has included cover art for Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. So, does the music live up to all this hype?
The band's sound draws inspiration from modern blues musicians like The Black Keys and older bands like, yes, Led Zeppelin and gives it an alt-rock twist. Lead singer Sannie Fox's self-assured, husky and at times dark vocals power through a catchy bassline.
Unlike some of the band’s live performances, where it is often difficult to make out the lyrics, Fox's articulation is clear throughout. The album opens with "Soul People", a bare, guitarless, drum-and-vocals performance that declares the band's unconventional approach. From then on, Andre Geldenhuys on guitar changes it up and keeps the rhythm whipping and flexing like a cat on a wire. Daniel Huxham on skins is the man who keeps it tight as he raps out the beat. He has his work cut out for him with Fox's expansive, drawling voice and the wailing notes of the guitar solos. The result is an 11-track album which just might be seriously habit-forming.
Twanging vocals and Southern-fried bends, at times reminiscent of an O Brother spiritual, feature along with heavier rock riffs and occasional Spanish interludes. The band's spartan style, the always changing tempo and melodic blues lines get things cooking and serve up a feast of cutaway indie tunes that's long overdue. Album highlights include the hypnotic rhythms of "Machine I Am"; "Big Bad Machine" with its catchy, chunky blues riffs; and the spare, percussive instrumentation and crooning vocals of "Father Gun." A concept album this is not, but the sound is a worthy addition to any blues-rock collection. If you haven't yet caught them live, go and listen to the album.