This Machine Makes Noise
On This Machine Makes Noise, Delaware trio Think Machine make all sorts of noise. At their core, they are very much a punk band, but clearly drawing influence from a lot of different places. They manage to blend a slew of jazzy open-voiced guitar chords, walking and bouncing bass lines, and technical and upbeat drums into a sound that is completely and unmistakably their own. To that point, it is almost hard to believe that they are only a three piece with everything that is going on with their sound.
“1000 Voices” starts with some dreamy guitar chords over a sparse beat and quickly picks up the pace for the majority of the tune. All of a sudden, the calamity of sound comes to an abrupt stop with the crash of cymbals and it’s back to the dreamy vibe from the beginning with a whispered voice over repeating, “1000 voices” over and over. The vocals boil over into a scream and when the dust settles, the guitars come back in and behind them a thundering drum fill to bring you back up to speed and close out the song.
Did I Stutter
“Did I Stutter” starts off with a voiceover clip “Did I Stutter” commanding your attention. There are acoustic guitars layered in with the electric and a fuzzy wall of sound disperses with a repeating riff and harmonics in the background. The guitars are loud, but the chords ring out, allowing space for the groove underneath to really steal your attention, at least for a little bit. The song kind of splits into two after the second verse, and you’re swirled about in a dizzying array of riffs and fills. When you can finally settle and the sound calms, it fades back to a quieter mirrored version of the opening sequence as the song comes to a close.
“Obsolete Man” opens with a thrashing constant, repeating guitar and a collage of voiceover lecturing a warning of “A future: Not one that will be,/ but one that might be”. There are multiple overlaying feedback signals fashioned into an orchestra of noise. It’s panicked, it’s the calm before the storm, and it only just barely prepares you for the anarchy that follows when the drum sticks strike a four count.
The same droning guitar part from “Obsolete Man” continues straight into “Papers, Please”. A second drum count on the cymbals throws you straight into the mess, that mess being the warning song for anyone standing idly while injustice happens around them. “When your time comes,/ will you stand as witness?/ If you’re not scared,/ then you haven’t been listening.” Both songs are extremely short, but they don’t need to be any longer than they are. They are straight to the brutal point that they put across. No frills, no excuses, and that makes this pair all the more poignant.
Especially considering the preceding song, “Lucy’s Song” feels like a relief, or at least a search for it. It sits perfectly in the middle of the album. It’s a stripped down acoustic song with only the acoustic and a voice with quiet, unassuming harmonies in the background. A bit of fuzz lays underneath the whole track, adding a bit of lofi aesthetic to it. It feels rainy, it feels like a song you sing on a Sunday when you’re exhausted after a long week. It’s reflective, wondering and an exploration of self, overall yearning. “What is this feeling that I’m feeling?/ Do you feel it too?” The majority of the song is set over a bit of unease. The chords never quite resolve completely and they bounce back and forth, over and over, not really allowing you to settle until the end. A little bit of instrumental play frees you up finally at the end with the realization, “And if I take my time,/ it’s gonna be okay./ It’s gonna be okay”.
After the short reprieve offered by “Lucy’s Song”, you’re thrown right back into the thick of it with “Animals”. The song starts at a hundred and somehow goes up from there. This track is a true showcase of everything the band has to offer. The song is a roller coaster. It feels like you’re spiraling out of control from the get go and you never quite get your footing. It feels like you’re at the hands of some cruel maniac pulling the strings, and that maniac is Think Machine. The climax of the song comes at about two minutes in when the melody spirals into an eerie, nightmarish calamity of feedback noise. They allow you to find your footing briefly with the reintroduction of the main riff, courtesy of the bass and drums bringing the beat back in slowly. But then it’s back to breakneck speed as the introductory riff sends you spiraling again, but this time into a slew of wild animal noises to end the track.
Another departure comes in the form of “Unfathomable Weight”. Over a lofi, almost trappy beat, there are multiple melodies floating in the atmosphere to create a dreamy soundscape. The vocals come through soaked in reverb and are almost impossible to really hear. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s like waking up from a dream and trying to remember exactly what happened. It feels close and yet very far at the same time. All of these interwoven melodies are strung neatly above a dreamy chord progression and a slow steady bass line carrying you right along into the next tune.
Before the last track has even faded out completely, “Bones” is up close and personal. Echoing the lyrics from the previous song – but much clearer, this time – “Have you ever felt it in your bones,/ an unfathomable weight that you can’t hold…/ maybe it’s all just in your head”. The vocals are panned to either side and gritty, creating the effect that you’re almost screaming at yourself in a symphony of noise around you. The song flirts with a little bit of jazzy lofi again here and features another bit of voiceover, but only for a little bit between the crushing walls of punk intensity. The song, as you’ve come to learn by now, couldn’t possibly end in the way you expect it to. The band shines in their ability to change the tempo, rhythm and overall tone of their music at the drop of a hat. They keep you constantly on your toes, constantly guessing and begging for more. “Do you ever wish you had a soul,/ an autonomous being with some control./ Maybe it’s all just in your head.” The whole album feels like an existential crisis, but this song is the most reflective and the truest expression of that.
Back – Up Plan
The second to last track “Back – Up Plan” seems to be, musically, the most straightforward song on the album. Considering each of its counterparts, that should by no means say that it is a simple tune. There is a return to the almost dreamy vibes from earlier on, but considerably louder. The overall tone is less of an angered reflection and more of reluctant acceptance. On an album that seems very much about self exploration, it feels very natural to end up here right before the album comes to a close. Maybe not a happy ending, but an ending nonetheless.
“Morbid” closes the album in a peculiar and almost unsettling way. The tone of the guitar and the overall sound of the track is reminiscent of “Lucy’s Song”, but the mood is very different. “One day I’m gonna bury you,/ unless you’re gonna bury me./ The grand prize for staying alive/ is watching everyone you love die./ Might call it morbid,/ but I call it staying grounded. / Might call it morbid,/ but I’m just overjoyed.” A grim outlook, but there is an undeniable truth to it. “Live a life that’s all for nothing/ and it’s fucking perfect,/ live a life for nothing/ and it’s beautiful./ I don’t want to waste my life without you,/ I don’t want to waste my life alone.” The vocals are screaming to the point you think that they might break. This song is gut wrenching and real and raw, and well…”Morbid”.
If anything can be said about the album as a whole, is that it will provoke thought. It will force you to confront things the things you’re comfortable with and some things you may not be comfortable with. It’s worth multiple listens, but it’s not so dense that you can’t enjoy it on your first. The band showcases a multitude of talents and ideas into ten relatively short songs. This Machine Makes Noise is available now on all streaming platforms through Impetus Records. They can be found on Facebook and Instagram at https://www.facebook.com/pg/thinkmachineband and https://www.instagram.com/thinkmachineband/.