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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Machine Mass Trio

As Real As Thinking

Review by Gary Hill

This outfit is quite an intriguing one. They combine jazz with space rock and other sounds to create a unique sound. It’s really amazing, at times, that this is just three guys. Instrumental music can often become boring or monolithic, but that never happens here. While this isn’t for everyone, those who like adventurous jazz infused instrumental music will love it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Cuckoo

Slightly dissonant, this has a really cool jazz groove as it builds out. Although the overall musical motif remains basically the same they take it in different directions via assorted soloing and at times it reaches up towards more rock oriented territory. The guitar soloing in particular, gets noisy and quite rock-based. It reminds me at times of Frank Zappa. It also brings some serious dissonance later. Saxophone takes center stage afterwards to ground the piece again.

Knowledge
More melodic, this is more purely jazz oriented. The drums just plain drive like crazy later in the piece, though, and there’s an intriguing section with the guitar sort of shadowing the saxophone.
Let Go
The guitar here combines a King Crimson sensibility with a garage band rock sound. The horn wails overhead bringing more of the jazz to the table. They take it in a few different directions and at times this makes me think of early Black Sabbath merging with the jazzier side of old school King Crimson. This powerful jam is one of my favorites on the set. There’s more of a droning acid jazz meets RIO section later. The guitar takes into some noodly directions at times, though.
Khajurao
Jazz blends with sitar-like Indian music sounds as this opens and moves forward. Moving in a melodic, but rather freeform way, the general themes that started the piece really don’t change a lot. Still, it gets a bit more energized in terms of volume level later.
Hero
Classic rock and jazz merge nicely on the early sections of this piece. Later a guitar solo turns it a bit noisier, taking it fully into a real fusion direction. Further down the road, though, we get a more pure jazz arrangement, with it at times reminding me a bit of Miles Davis.
UFO-RA
While this has some serious jazz jamming built into it, there’s (appropriately) a bit of science fiction element to the proceedings. The bass really drives this thing with a ton of energy. I love the cool retro science fiction organ solo later in the piece.
Falling Up
At over eighteen minutes in length, this epic is the longest piece on show. It opens with some synthesizer sounds that almost sound like water falling up. Percussion joins after a time. Noisy guitar rises up later to continue moving the themes forward. As it wanders about it’s rather like jazz meets space rock. It gets noisy and is seriously freeform, wandering well into major noisy space, but yet it never seems to feel noodly or lost. In addition, it never gets boring or repetitive. That’s impressive. It works back out to more pure jazz after the guitar soloing drops away. From there it works out to jazzy space until some guitar starts taking it back towards the noise zone. Another freeform jazz excursion works out from there.
Palitana Mood
Here we get a much shorter and much mellower number. Native American and East Indian tones both seem to be on display as this piece swirls around in melodic ways.
 
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