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Machine Mass

Machine Mass Plays Hendrix

Review by Gary Hill

Those coming here expecting to hear faithful versions of Jimi Hendrix songs probably don't know much about Machine Mass. These guys are a fusion turned avant-garde prog outfit. Their interpretations of Jimi Hendrix pieces definitely live within that general territory. This gets quite space rock oriented at times. It turns toward Hendrix-like hard rock at points. All in all, though, this is incredibly creative and always interesting. It's essentially instrumental, but there are some bits of Hendrix being interviewed on a couple songs.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Third Stone from the Sun

With the opening sounds of the cut played on keyboards, this takes on a melodic space rock kind of vibe. Trippier, psychedelic elements are added to the mix as it drifts forward. Then the percussion takes center stage for a time, and we're taken out into some definite expansive space rock from there. Appropriately scorching hot guitar joins later as the tracks works into fusion meets space rock territory.

Purple Haze

Open, freeform fusion jamming starts this and holds it as it moves onward. Around the two minute mark it starts to resemble Hendrix' version as the hard rocking guitar takes the dominant point. This still has some of that jazz element at play, though. I'm reminded a bit of some of King Crimson's jazzier, freeform jams in some of the later stuff.

Little Wing

Speaking of freeform and jazzy, this definitely figures into that equation. It has some spoken stuff going on in the background. As the piece continues to evolve, it's clear that it's an interview segment playing in the backdrop. This gets into some pretty freaky territory, never really coalescing into any kind of "song-like" structure.

Spanish Castle Magic

The trippiness of the last cut opens this and holds it for quite a while. Around the two minute mark it fires out into more hard rocking pure progressive rock jamming. There is some killer guitar dancing over the top of the arrangement. This gets into some seriously smoking hot stuff territory as it continues its exploration.

Fire

The staccato movement that opens this makes me think of Red era King Crimson. The cut gets more of an actual Hendrix like element added to the mix through the hard rocking guitar as it continues forward. This really turns into a driving furious powerhouse of a piece. It becomes crazed, to the extreme. `

Voodoo Chile

They bring a down and dirty kind of retro texture to this thing. It is in many ways the most like Hendrix' version of anything here. Yet, it still leans toward the freeform. It really starts to spread out and space out as it continues moving it into space rock territory.

Burning the Midnight Lamp

Dissonant, jazzy piano leads this off and holds it as it moves forward. After the one minute mark they fire out into a killer retro sounding jazz jam. Organ screams over the top as frantic, slightly off-kilter jamming drives the piece.

You Got Me Floatin'

This comes in pretty freaky and psychedelic. Then it works out to more of a straight-ahead, driving rocker from there. Some of the freaky jamming later on reminds me just a bit of Frank Zappa, but it works out to more of a freak-out version of world music after that. At almost eleven minutes in length, this is the longest piece here. They use all the extra space to really explore. There is a percussion dominated movement later with either keyboards or tuned percussion the main melodic focus. There is some crazed guitar that joins beyond that as they take it to the extend drop down to end.

The Wind Cries Mary

The music on here is sort of a jazz take on the Hendrix song. Hendrix talking comes over the top of that. They bring proggier elements in on the jamming after the voice drops away. At less than three-minutes long, this is the shortest piece here. It works toward space at the end.

 
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