Memories Of Machines
16 May 2011
by Amit Sharma
It’s not often that a debut album is this vigorously anticipated in the prog circles. Warm Winter has taken six years to record and release, and ended up being a lot more than a two man project. The credentials of Tim Bowness (no-man) and Giancarlo Erra (Nosound) alone are impressive enough, but when you look at the list of collaborators on these 11 tracks, you really know you’re in for a treat. Interestingly pretty much all the songwriting is credited to the duo, with the exception of ‘Lost And Found In The Digital World’ which was co-written by Robert Fripp. That’s right, Mr. King Crimson himself.
Opener ‘New Memories Of Machines’ is a good indication of what the next 50 minutes will entail. It’s a haunting mix of strings and guitars washed in multitudinous amounts of glorious reverb, sounding stripped down and almost naked. ‘Before We Fall’ is probably the most rhythmic track on this record, with the drums more prominent in the overall voice of the song itself. Half the songs feature no drums or percussion at all – sounding almost free-time, transparent and airy. At the core of each song are Giancarlo Erra’s acoustic guitars and keys, and this foundation allows Memories Of Machines to create some powerful dynamics, with verses that are like distant echoes in comparison to the thick, almost orchestral choruses.
Tim Bowness’ vocals add the human touch of fragility to the gloomy soundscapes created by Giancarlo Erra. This works particularly on songs like ‘Something In Our Lives’ and ‘Lucky You, Lucky Me’ – the latter of which featuring the busiest man in prog, Steve Wilson, on guitars and keyboards. This album was also mixed by the Porcupine Tree mastermind at his home studio (No Man’s Land) and the result is very much something emotive, bittersweet and ethereal yet more hollow than your usual Wilson mix. ‘Lost And Found In The Digital World’ is probably as atmospheric as this record gets, with Erra’s dreamy guitar work buttered by Fripp’s ambience and muted jazz trumpet tones from Aleksei Saks.
It has to be said this isn’t a record that grabs you instantly and has you hooked from the word go. Warm Winter requires some effort from the listener and takes time to digest, more so than your average prog record. At first it feels like each track ends before it has had the chance to fully evolve, and you’re left waiting for a moment that never comes. That said, once you are able to appreciate that there is no particular breaking point in any of these avant-garde passages, it actually makes quite a rewarding listen.
Top tracks: Before We Fall, Lucky You Lucky Me, Lost And Found In The Digital World
Guitar solo rating: 2/6
Sounds like: Steve Wilson was involved, Nosound, no-man
Memories Of Machines – Warm Winter tracklisting:
New Memories Of Machines
Before We Fall
Beautiful Songs You Should Know
Lucky You, Lucky Me
Change Me Once Again
Something In Our Lives
Lost And Found In The Digital World
At The Centre Of It All