Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Smashing Pumpkins "Machina - The Machines Of God" (2000)

Its been some time since I last listened to the Pumpkins, we last left off with "Adore", an album that marked a shift within the band that set them on a different path musically. Suffering the departure of drummer Chamberlin and brain of the band Corgan going through a deep depression, the shift is considered the end of their "classic" era and has since left fans divided on the bands musical output after this point. I found Adore difficult to fully appreciate, but it wasn't till after a wrote my blog and put it down that the melodies and echoes started to play in my mind, and picking it back up I really grew to love and appreciate what it was about. Having not been especially swooned by this record I'm wondering if it will follow suit with Adore, a record that absence grows fonder.

Machina sees the return of drummer Chamberlin and departure of bassist Darcy, but not a change that makes a drastic impact on the record, even with their drummer reunited the drumming has the stiff looped feel of Adore. On first listen their is a lot that feels like a progression from it, theres a thick ethereal ooze of airy noise between instruments, many acoustic moments alongside the return of distorted guitars that are fitting of Corgan's style that blurs the lines of Rock and Metal. It is a sound certainly identifiable as Pumpkins, but only lives up to their reputation in the strong moments of this record, of which their are many, but as the record draws on there are some less attentive tracks, namely "The Imploding Void" and "Glass And The Ghost Children", fifteen minutes that fall flat. Machina was originally proposed as a double album, and after being rejected by the record label the second half was released online for free the same year. One of the first records distributed online free of charge.

The strengths of Machina come from Corgan alone, his voice cruises over lush ethereal tonal guitars ringing out in a haze of distortion and melodic acoustics. Either jamming out a riff or parading a thoughtful lead, his voice coursing over the airy soaked layered sound is comforting and warm from track to track. The other instruments don't quite speak in this volume, the bass muddles on with a basic groove behind each riff and the drums are not as adventurous as they have once been, but its looped feel and contained approach may server as a better backbone for what is an indulgent and intoxicating sound on its best songs. On its quieter tracks Corgans ideas feel solid but just fall short in execution as the mediocre suffers the flow set by some of Pumpkin's best songs with "Stand Inside Your Love" and "The Sacred And Profane". Time will let me know more about this record, I certainly found some gems here, but as a whole it didn't quite smooth out.

Favorite Tracks: The Everlasting Gaze, Stand Inside Your Love, The Sacred And Profane, This Time, Wound
Rating: 5/10