In the three years since the release of their acclaimed debut album 'Rubidium', Maschine have become acknowledged as one of the most focused progressive bands around. And second album 'Naturalis' will cement their reputation.
The new release has not been at all rushed, but carefully considered and developed.
“I'm very proud of what we've done in the studio this time,” says guitarist/vocalist Luke Machin, who is also responsible for both producing and writing the album. “We were very aware that the songs had to be the best we could do. After all, it does represent us at this point in time, and we were determined that everything about it should be the best that could be done.”
The six tracks here fit into a conceptual approach, as Machine explains.
“This is basically about natural events. It's something I've been thinking about and working on for some time. My interest really began with the Japanese tsunami in 2011.It had such a far reaching effect on so many people. I also read about the ramifications of the tsunami across the world. Geologically, it was so severe that it actually knocked the earth slightly off its axis!
“Once I had the idea for the album fixed in my head, the whole thing just snowballed. But what I didn't want this to be was a record about natural disasters. That can be such a dark subject. What I wanted to emphasise was that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope for mankind. And that's the vibe I wanted to come through.”
Oddly, one thing that worked in the album's favour was that Machin has had to deal with some health issues. What this meant was that he actually got more time to ensure everything about 'Naturalis' as an album could be taken further and pushed to the maximum.
“I had the time to refine ideas, and ensure we could really make it a very high quality album. Now, I am very happy with what we have. The whole thing has come together so cohesively.”
As on 'Rubidium', Machin is the man who wrote all the songs. But he feels this time the tracks are at a different level to what he'd done previously.
“The songs on the first album were good, but written over a period of four or five years. So, some were quite old by the time we came to record them. As a result, I feel that stylistically we were a little all over the place. Sure, we were obviously a progressive band, but beyond that you couldn't put a finger on exactly what type of music we were playing. Now, I feel we have found a consistent sound and style, and have really moved forward.”
Machin reveals that, while he wrote the core of every song here, he then crucially got each member of the band to provide their input, in order to ensure the arrangements were as exhaustive as they could possibly be. And this also marks the recording debuts for the two new members of the band, namely drummer James Stewart and keyboard player/vocalist Marie-Eve de Gaultier.
“Our previous drummer, Doug Hamer, is a great player and is still a good friend. But it just wasn't working out musically. He also wanted to pursue his law studies, so, it made sense to replace him.
“We held auditions at the Brighton Institute Of Music, and James was the first guy I contacted about this. He came in, and just nailed everything; it was jaw dropping.”
As for the other change...
“Georgia Lewis, our previous keyboard player and singer, has her own folk band, and began to feel that being in Maschine was taking up too much of her time. We had a chat about it, and came to a mutual decision that it was best all round for her to leave.
“Marie is a phenomenal keyboard player, and has a beautiful voice. I believe the male/female vocal harmonies in this band are important. So, I wanted to ensure we got somebody in who could carry this on, and Marie certainly does that.”
The new line-up, also featuring Elliot Fuller on guitar and Dan Mashal on bass, has now been together for nearly two years.
“We've toured together and get on very well. We've become a very coherent band, and this shows in the way the album sounds.”
The album was recorded at Machin's own studio. And he loved the challenge on the production side.
“Since producing 'Rubidium', I have learnt so much more about the production side. I've been into producing ever since I started to play guitar. I'm fascinated by the differing sounds you got from the various eras of music. What we have done on this album is fuse all those elements from across the decades. It's certainly a modern sounding album, but the roots go right back to the bands I grew up on.”
While Machin had a few problems with his throat, which delayed the recording process, he feels that ultimately this worked in his favour.
“I did lot of fitness training and running on the beach in Brighton; as a result my voice now sounds better than ever.”
Machin is confident that 'Naturalis' will impress everyone.
“The album reflects much more of what we are about. As a progressive band in the true sense of the term, we will never repeat ourselves and will always look to move on. But you can hear a cohesion in our style and sound. We have taken inspirations from so many different areas of music. I have taken the feelings from albums and tracks that make an impression on me, and have brought these to life in Maschine's music.
“We do come across as more of a band here, with injections of technical ability.”
London, August 2016