This is a flawless album. I literally had to hold off writing about if for an entire week so as not to berate all of you with my nondescript ejaculation of praise. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that ‘Metropolis Pt. I’ is one of the most exciting electronic albums I’ve ever heard. The M Machine has tapped into a magnanimous reservoir of creativity and production.
Rising from an unknown depth, The M Machine’s first EP was largely overlooked, having to reckon with the massive wake caused by Porter Robinson’s ’Spitfire’ EP. Apart from that, their discography was only comprised of two singles ‘Trafalgar’ and ‘No Fun Intended’ and a remix of Peacetreaty’s ’Cal State Anthem’. However, with such massive buzz surrounding ’Metropolis Pt. I’ (and it’s companion sequel, forthcoming this year), The M Machine is poised to be a permanent fixture in the electronic music world.
But being picked up by OWSLA owner, Skrillex, was no happy accident. There has been an immense amount of thought and creativity that has gone into The M Machine. Based out of 20,000 square-foot warehouse in San Francisco (that has served as an artistic collective/commune for over three decades), The M Machine members – Ben Swardlick, Eric Luttrell and Andy Coenen – have arduously crafted the project for over two years.
Last March, the band released a teaser video, which forged an powerful union between their dark, sadistic sound and the dystopian, art-deco visuals, inspired by the Fritz Lang-directed film Metropolis. However, that was it. There was no substantial content to satiate the potent mystery they had conjured up with the teaser. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Swardlick said:
It slipped past us that people were going to be confused by how something that seems relatively legit and real, had no information from before,” Swardlick says…Most bands have a come up, but we wanted to come out the door ready to go… We wanted to write an album and we wanted it to be conceptual and have a whole imagery…
These expectations and hopes have been executed perfectly in ’Metropolis Pt. I’. It’s got something to offer everyone, which is extremely rare for an electronic album. Each of its six-tracks are a completely different tempo and genre, spanning from 110bpm Indie Dance to dubstep at 170bpm. This album takes you back and forth from the most aggressive highs to the most somber, mellow lows without sight of the whole picture.
In an excellent interview for Beatport, The M Machine reveal more details about their music and live show:
How would you describe the music that you make?
For us, “electronic” is only a technical medium. We hope and strive to write songs first and foremost. We really emphasize musicality and songwriting, and even though we’re always trying to push the boundaries of sound and production, it’s most important that we make something that is timeless. As for genre, we certainly dabble in a few. We see most of our success writing electro-house and vocal-based indie-electro. Still, we’re no stranger to future techno, dubstep, and pop.
Thematically we tie our music and lyrics together with a focus on three categories: Andy writes love songs, Eric, songs of introspection, and Swardy, stories of wandering and exploration. In each case we color our music with cinematic orchestration and traditional song structure/arrangement.
Do you DJ or play live (or both)? How would you describe your sets?
The M Machine is booked for both live shows and DJ sets. The latter was largely modeled after the patient and tense DJ performances we saw from acts like Simian Mobile Disco and 2ManyDJs. However, we don’t entirely shy away from the fast-action build-drop-build-drop sets many of the younger producers rely on. Our DJ set should take you through both experiences.
Our live show is even more volatile. With a similar emphasis on the journey up, and the spiral down. We go through just about our entire catalog during a live performance. With live synths and samples, live vocals, etc., we certainly resemble a traditional band onstage. That said, we’re believers that the sonic fidelity of a performance should rival or exceed that of a recorded song. So for example, if we’ve layered seven voices on a vocal track, then vox one, two, and three are performed live, while four through seven are sampled as backups.
We also designed, built, and programmed a custom light instrument in the shape of a giant M.* The M looms above us on stage, controlled and performed by its inventor, Andy.
*See the ‘M Machine’ in action below:
It’s still early into 2012, but I can say with absolute confidence that ’Metropolis Pt. I’ will be one of my favorite albums of the year. It’s such a unique piece of work, seemingly uninhibited in its creative appeal. Make sure to check out the entire album below and support it on Beatport.
To dive further into The M Machine mythology, scope out these newly released liner notes that the group released yesterday. F***ing incredible.
[Song Enclosed - View Full Post to Listen]
The M Machine – Faces