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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Talk Engine

Talk Engine

Review by Gary Hill

Do you remember Marianne Faithful's work where she basically reads poetry over some killer music? Well, if you like that sort of material, this disc is definitely for you. The vocals on this album are very much like the ones Faithful did. The music at times calls to mind that sort of a texture, too, but you might also hear Led Zeppelin, Dick Dale and even The Dead Kennedys's here. You might think that a full disc of music like this would be a bit boring and repetitive, but they really know how to mix it up to keep it interesting. This is a cool, if rather unusual, album. It should be noted that those with kids or easily offended by "foul" language might want to think twice about this release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Beating the Deuce
This one feels like a killer blues rock jam at first, but as the vocals enter they bring in a mode that calls to mind Patti Smith and Marianne Faithful's rapping. While not quite like anything you've probably ever heard before, this is a strong cut and a great choice for disc opener.
Pickup Line
At first this one is just percussion and the poetry reading type of approach. This gives it a feel like the old beat poets. As the band kick in, though, they deliver more bluesy rock textures.

Salute This
This one has a definite surf music texture. I like the distant, megaphone-like texture to the readings on this one. Of the tracks played thus far, this one is my favorite. The guitar solo seems to combine the sounds of Dick Dale with the Dead Kennedy's.
My Enemy
A slow blues ballad approach is quite a tasty change up here. This feels (before the vocals) like something that could have come from one of Led Zeppelin's first few albums. The poetry reading approach works really well over this backdrop. This one is definitely one of my favorite cuts on the disc, and includes some actual singing at points. When this powers out later this really does have a Marianne Faithful texture.
This one has a playful bouncy texture and is lots of fun. It just somewhat pales in comparison to the last track. It has a lot more stripped down texture.
Dirty & Familiar
This has a great funky sort of groove and feels rather jazzy. 
Dream Me Coupled
If the last one was a bit jazz-like, this one feels like full on fusion. It's another of the highlights of the album. The musical textures on this one are pretty awesome.
At Prayer
Starting with mostly just rhythmic elements, this one shifts into a free form sort of jam that makes it also call to mind the beat poets. Later, though, it peaks out at times into a jam that calls to mind very early Pink Floyd quite a bit. This one has quite a bit of a psychedelic texture to it. It's arguably the most unique and creative track on show, and I even hear a little modern King Crimson here. This one is my favorite song on show here. It really smokes at points and the outro even feels a little like Black Sabbath.
Picture Show
Starting acappela, as the bass enters it is in a funky mode that calls to mind the Red Hot Chili Peppers a bit. This is another smoking hot number and another highlight of a CD that's full of strong material. There are some killer guitar sounds on this one for certain.
A bouncy and fun little texture with a definite retro tone makes up this track. While this approach really suits the lyrics, I just don't really think it holds up to the rest of the album. If there is a cut to skip here, this is it.
Vigilante Verses
A dramatic heavy sort of mode with a definite funky rhythm, this one is another exceptionally powerful jam. In fact, it's another of my favorites. This one has some really nice textures and just plain rocks.

This one comes in with a very early proto metal texture. It works through with a very sparse arrangement for a while - just guitar and voice with a little bit of percussion. It gradually becomes more filled out as it goes along. This one has a definite metal/punk/hardcore texture. It's not bad, but not really a standout.

Marlboro Woman
This has a mellower texture and is a rather cool groove, but it's another that tends to pale compared to some of the other stuff. The lyrics, though, are what really makes it stand out.

God Enters The World
This one is the weirdest one on show here. It has a textural sound effects laden sound and the poetry is read with effects that call to mind Laurie Anderson. I'm not crazy about this one, and it probably wasn't the best choice for disc closer.
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