Within some genres of music whether it is progressive rock, psychedelic rock, krautrock, etc .. there are leaders and then there are followers. The followers try to trace a picture or try and sound like another musical entity whether it is a solo artist or a band. The followers are like sheep gone astray that left to their own devices seem very bland or someone trying to fit in with the popular crowd. 75% of music is primarily made up of followers. The followers just seem they can not think or create anything for themselves. They are always ‘YES -MEN,’ who want to appease every person with every little thing due to fear or lack of confidence or perhaps talent.
There is also the other 25% that are the leaders. The leaders are always the visionaries who lead by example. Those who are leaders create their own molds in which to make their own casts. These are people who create and innovate while others imitate. The leaders are often times regarded as foolish daydreamers who live and behave in in a altered reality. The leaders are persecuted, scrutinized and often times discouraged from perusing the passions, dreams and visions. These are courageous who cut there own path’s towards their respective destiny’s.
Why open this review with such a comparison you ask? Well by closer observation I have come to the conclusion the Heavy Psych Sounds and their act Mother Engine are in the 25% leader bracket and Mother Engine’s current release Hangar in the perfect example to this. With only three people in the band, Mother Engine certainly have a full sound of what we have come to expect from 5 to 7 person bands. Through true knowledge of their respective instruments and much practice
Mother Engine are a very unstoppable ‘Three Man Progressive Psychedelic Symphony’.
What they create is a vast expanse of quality music that requires a long attention span. This is due to the fact that there are only four tracks on the album at almost 20 minutes each. Think Bla Lotus’ Tube Alloy’s with much longer soundscapes. Without any further delay lets look into the world of Mother Engine’s Hangar through those four tracks.
Prototyp (18:23)-begins with a heavily stoner/psychedelic induced chord progression that works also as a heavy atmospheric introduction. There is a very special effect as if the band are giving the listener the illusion or appearance that some kind of spaceship or space probe is closing at its air lock. It is as if the band are going to take their listeners on some cosmic voyage into the unknown. Soon the special effects would give way and fade when a deep bass progression comes into the track. From there a rhythmic progressive frenzy ensues.
Soon the lush guitar atmospheres come in perfectly giving the listener a vivid melodic illusion of sheer melodic controlled cosmic chaos. The band certainly knows how to allow both stringed and rhythm sections to breathe and enjoyed very distinctly by the listener. Christian Dressel – Bass manages to perfectly execute a twofold approach between using the bass both as a melodic instrument and a percussive rhythmic instrument weaving in and out of both elements effortlessly. There seems to be nothing pretentious or contrived within the objective of the song composition. Mother Engine certainly has a great uncanny ability to create atmospheres of both stoner and psychedelic elements. With only three members in the band they manage with excellence to create a Stoner-Psychedelic Symphony that gives the listener the illusion that there are much more instruments and personnel involved.
Biosp(i)rit (18:08) opens up in such a precise way that has one perhaps recognizing a particular Jim Morrison and The Doors classic Psychedelic epic opus The End.Very soon after such ambient psychedelic intro, this song take on a very old school fuzzy distortion with how Chris Trautenbach – Guitar, creates it within the vast expanse of the song body. This is also supported with a deep rhythmic section that perfectly compliments the atmosphere created from the brilliant guitar. Following this great stoner symphonic introduction, the track takes on some very strong 1990’s alternative Stone Temple Pilots styled chord progressions and passages. To qualify that last statement, the band still remain very 1970’s progressive-psychedelic stoner minded and always on point to their main objective.
This track is one of those tracks that is perfectly ready for the band to give it to a live audience with the live treatment. It starts off very subtly building layer upon layer until it the absolute metamorphosis into the perfect ‘Jam Band’song is manifested for both band and public consumption. One thing I am starting to notice going forward in the album is that the band do not layer tracks or overdub tracks to death in studio making it very difficult to give their music the above mentioned live treatment. At about the 10:00 mark the track presents the listener to come killer riffs that are perfectly complimented by some very deep and deliberate space rock style chord progressions and rhythmic sections. That brief yet powerful explosion of sonic creativity soon fades down a bit around the 13:00 mark. It settles with a simple guitar chord progression that is met with a very intricate rhythm section that takes on a progressive rock personality about it. This roars out with a heavily fuzzy distortion element on a straight away rock track.
Tokamak (21:29)opens up with a eerie suspenseful atmosphere. It has quite a Krautrock meets psychedelic Syd Barret era Pink Floyd style about it. In a era where some music is being formatted for hi fidelity sound and surround sound the effects presented in the opening to this one remind me heavily of the days of 1970’s quadraphonic sound which was the a pioneer to surround sound and hi fidelity. While most music is listened to through a headset, the opening to this alone is well worth a open air listening session through professional studio monitors if one has access to that format of technology.
The use of the guitar to form a screaming sound along with the drums created a rain water sound is a thing of sheer beauty and genius. When you are familiar with your instrument enough where you can manipulate the presentation with various effects not typically associated with that effect you are a well studied musician and Mother Engine certainly meets that criteria and it shows on this song. Another dynamic going on here is that to the very seasoned consumer to this brand of music and to the trained ear that can pick up analog sound. it sounds like the fresh needle of a vinyl record being spun like music use to be. This is yet another depth of talent that Mother Engine possesses.
At about the 9:00 mark the band take the song into a more progressive/psychedelic jazz atmosphere with the various time signatures and chord progressions. After that the band do what they seem destined to do in the recording process, that being the layering element upon chord progression in a line of melodic precept after melodic precept.
Weihe/Leerlauf (19:18) opens up with a beautiful Indian Classical Music oriental scale blended with the signature psychedelic space rock that the band have already established on the album. Here is another track where the band uses their expertise in layering their sound with various sub tracks that make for a full and warm composition. The band also has a very intricate ability to go from painting atmospheres in the song to straight away psychedelic jam band rock chord progressions. Their signature fuzzy stoner riffs still anchor this track like they have with the 3 previous tracks on the album.
The band allows for the song to move in various different directions leaving for room to be non predictable where the listeners attention remains focused within the album. This track sees the band utilize their ability and musicianship to meet this very purpose. This track has one of the most definitive and solid 8+ minute outro’s in the history of this genre I have ever heard. It is a true roller coaster ride of up tempo, to atmospheric space rock styles, to crunchy straight up rock riffs.
This one certainly took me by surprise. Mother Engine are a band that truly makes great epic psychedelic rock without it sounding imitated or just another redundant jam band session. In their improvisation their riffs and chord progressions all have a purpose and direction without them just being ‘Fills’ or ‘Cogs‘ in the system or machine. With Hangar, Mother Engine have another melodious project to build their respective legacy on. Mother Engine’s Hangar gets a 5/5.
It is no secret that Germany have had a significant hand in the progressive rock and progressive metal for the last 45+ years. Starting with the early Krautrock bands like Amon Dull ii, Can, Popol Vuhl, Sun Ra, Klause Schultz and Kraftwerk, Germany have certainly left their lasting legacy in the world of progressive rock which influence is still felt and handed down to this day. In recent years bands like Vanden Plas, Sieges Even, Subsignal and now Poor Genetic Material have continue the German progressive rock legacy.
Poor Genetic Material are no strangers to the world of progressive rock. Founded in 2000 and with eight prior releases under their belt, Poor Genetic Material continue to add their own flavour and blend of quality well crafted progressive rock to the progressive rock community. I suppose if one had to make comparisons, Poor Genetic Material’s sound is a mixture of Yes meets Caravan meets Subsignal. This is also very evident with their current 2016 offering Poor Genetic Material Absence.
Absence has a little bit of every element of progressive rock. It contains longer compositions, great atmospheric chord progressions and even some light off rhythmic sections that still remain within the main time signature focus and objective. Poor Genetic Material’s Absence also has a warmth and maturity about it that is appealing to both a mature seasoned progressive audio pallet and a fun appeal that even draws in a younger more curious audience to their music. With only six tracks, some that range from 3+ minutes to 18+ minutes Poor Genetic Material’s Absence provides a quality hour of progressive bliss that is certainly to continue the band’s own legacy. Within the duration of the hour plus, Poor Genetic Material examine the void, emptiness brought by the absence of a person through death or a break up of a friendship, a lifestyle change,,or even a change in circumstances.The band has also taken brilliant creative license by book ending the 30+ minute epic Absence. That is the immediate indicator that this is a concept album and that the band is about to take you the listener on a cerebral journey stimulated by music through the audio senses. Now let’s look at few highlights from Absence.
Absence Part 1 starts out with a nice keyboard driven atmospheric passage in the intro. It continues layers upon layers of various keyboard effects as it builds towards the inside of the track itself. It is like a film soundtrack opening with soft warm and subtle vocals gingerly in step with the atmospheres. The lyrical content speaks of loss and loneliness that anyone can identify with. It also speaks of those who may mean well about talking to these people in the afterlife however the person in question who experienced loss of a friend wants no part of it. The instrumental atmospheres and melodies are spot on point with the emotion conveyed by the character in the story. Instrumentally the band build these symphonic style passages with smooth rhythm sections.
What If …? Lyrically picks up where Absence Part 1 leaves off except this time it has a thunderous rhythm section with very abstract guitar passages. Lyrically the character starts to question the very definition of the topic of Absence. The vocal presentation and delivery is both soulful and has a powerful level of conviction to perfectly accompany the powerful rhythm based section. The harmonies between father and son duo of Phillip and Martin Griffiths are both powerful and filled of soul. The guitar work is like another vocal transcribed on the fretboard. Although they sound slightly neo progressive, the keyboards provide a darker side to the song.
Lost In Translation begins with a lush keyboard that is layered with a very dark symphonic bass line. The synth guitars continue to add to the dark atmosphere to this one. The lyrical matter explores what all humans question while in this life still, that being where do we go once our body takes its last breath and we enter the afterlife. With the dark brooding instrumental in harmony with the warm vocals this makes for a emotional 4+ minutes. A lot of this composition reminds me of IQ’s Dark Matter.
Chalkhill Blues opens up with a far more upbeat and lighter instrumental chord progressions. The lyrical matter is even a lot lighter on this track. However make no mistake the band remains on point with the concept of Absence on this one.
Absconded is a story of absence due to the break up of a friendship or relationship whether it be a personal or professional relationship.It is also the absence of influence as well. This track is very heavy on percussive rhythm with the drums matched by the deep textures in the guitars and synth guitars. The backing vocals perfectly echo compliment the lead vocals. The harmonies have a little more muscle on them throughout this track. The unsung hero of this track are both the Hammond style organ and the beautiful flute done wonderfully by Pia Darmstaedter. The flute seems to also take on another level of emotion to match the mental content lyrically.
Absence Part 2 opens with a very wonderful atmosphere of both keyboard and brilliant percussion work adding layers to textures. This has some serious special effects of vast open atmospheres like those heard in space rock. It is as if the music is calling and beckoning the listener from deep interstellar space. Lyrically the character is forced to mature or perish under the weight of his own loneliness and grief This is a heavily atmospheric track from the first to final note. It would make sense that the band book ended the 30+ minute epic of Absence. The book ending of the epic with the shorter tracks in the middle serve as the various forms absence takes within the human psyche. The band throughout the 6 tracks beautifully paint a dark, melancholic yet beautiful story on the theater of the mind of the listener.
Poor Genetic Material’s Absence is not just another piece of album work as far as the writing, recording, mixing and mastering. It goes way beyond that. This is music that is more crafted than the typical process. The band really pays attention greatly to detail. I will admit this was my first introduction to Poor Genetic Material. Now to get started financially on their library of the previous eight releases. Poor Genetic Material’s Absence gets a 4.75/5.
Suicide is a very sensitive subject. We do not know the reasons why somebody is driven to the point to where they feel like they have to take their own life. The warning signs of suicide vary and greatly depending on the personality and circumstances. It is believed that their are 3 suicides to every 1 homicide per year worldwide. Some people who attempt suicide and people who are actually successful with suicide have been thinking about it and developing their exit strategy for years sometimes decades.
What happens to those people that are left behind and alive ? There is a constant questioning of the loved one’s motives who committed suicide. There is also a false sense of guilt that some carry with them. Questions such, “If I would of been there more?” , “If only I knew the signs I could’ve talked them out of it?” Should’ve , could’ve or would’ve now fall on deaf ears of life’s relevancy. The loved ones left behind to now have to live with it are Lost.
This is the subject that Germany’s Thoughts Factory tackle on their Melodic Revolution Records 2014 release Lost. Thoughts Factory Lost is the second release from Melodic Revolution Records that has dealt with the subject of suicide. The other release being 2015’s Amadeus Awad’s Death Is Just A Feeling. It also serves as a testament that Melodic Revolution Records allow for their artists to have breathing room to explore some deep personal conviction without demanding something for the sake of a mainstream pallet and quick revenue.
Thoughts Factory Lost examines the life of a person that is left with the task of serious grieving right after a loved one successfully committed suicide. The band wrote this in such a way where it was gender neutral in the first person narrative where male or female can put themselves in the position of that first person narrative. Meanwhile as the grieving person picks up the pieces and makes every attempt to move forward and understand the loss they have just experienced they are being visited by some of the same inner demons that cause their said loved one to take their own life. This sets up the epic battle between two characters in the story of Lost the grieving person questioning everything and the character of FEAR that continually taunts them and tempts them through the grieving process.
The 8 songs within the album represent the various stages of grieving for the loved one who has been left behind. It is as if the one left behind is keeping a melodic journal of the various stages of grieving. I will share some musical highlights from every track.
Awakening starts off with a power intro of great rhythmic hooks and signatures with both the bass/drum rhythm section and the keyboards serving as backbones anchoring the track. The track contains power guitar solos. This is a great approach to hook the listener immediately. Soon the track drops and takes a more mellow yet warmer direction as soon as the lyrical content and story begins. The lyrical content is a reflection on past recent events in the life of the one left behind.
The Deep Forest begins with a beautiful yet melancholic acoustic guitar passage that is soon met with very warm vocals to continue to draw the listener in both the narrative of the story and its message. This is the song where we see the first conflict of the person left behind and Fear. The instrumental portions are not just there as music they are also there to convey the emotion of each lyrical line and every passage. The band even resort to something rare in progressive metal these days with a Hammond style synth. The instrumental narrative and lyrical content sound more like a beautiful harmonious unity rather than just a filler of formality. When the vocal narrative requires anger the instrumental also conveys the anger as well. The treacherous battle between the one left behind and the taunter , the tempter Fear is epic.
Desperation finds the voice of Fear stepping away. The person left behind begins to blame him or herself for their friends suicide. This is when all the should’ve, would’ve and could haves really start to surface again leaving the person left behind to beat themselves up over the loss of their loved ones. The instrumental is crunchy and rhythmically brooding to convey the anger of the one left behind. This is a step within the grieving where the person assumes false guilt for his or her loved one’s suicide.The rhythm section really does a great job conveying the adrenaline that is brought on by inner anger in cases like the one this person is going through. They synths interchange from old school Hammond style to current neo progressive for more emotional effect.
Light is a short 1:50 piano passage backed ballad. However within its short 1:50 it tells as much a story as a 4:00-6:00 track could do. The message is key on point and profound in its nature.
Voices From Heaven begins with a powerful grand intro much like The Deep Forest does. It starts out more like a symphony orchestra than a metal song. It soon takes on the metallic sound though. The complex and tight rhythm section makes this a true treat for the progressive metal purists. The keyboard has been stripped in areas to be a piano. Through all the time signatures the band stays on point of their objective to tell the story of the concept. Not to make too many comparisons some of the instrumental sections sound as tight as Dream Theater’s Erotomania off of 1994’s Awake. The person left behind reflects on the life he or she had with their friend while in their youth. It leaves some speculation that the friendship and bond had many years before the unthinkable happened. While the person reflects on their youth he or she still questions why the person they loved for what seemed a lifetime would commit such act towards themselves. You can really tell the person still living and left behind is hungry for some comfort to get them through this time. The instrumental portions still stay within the lyrical emotion and on point. The guitar solo towards the end has so much passion and emotion it is like another character within the story.
No Way Out finds the friend living and left behind coming to some reconciliation within themselves about the entire situation they have been struggling to understand. The instrumental conveys the emotion of serious anger as the friend living and left behind knows they must move forward before it consumes them. The instrumental is more of a progressive power metal element to achieve the desired result of moving forward. The rhythm sections straight up assault the audio senses of the listener in a very melodic way. The double blast beats add to the emotions as well. There is a nice spoken word narrative within the song as well. Ultimately the one living and left behind has come to the conclusion that their friend was selfish and sadly can never forgive their friend for doing this to themselves. The guitar solo is a full on shred fest much in the vein of Randy Rhoads on Crazy Train.
The Mire begins with a lush layered piano and guitar intro as if to convey a tearful emotion. It sounds very isolated like a character that now needs to be left alone to start the healing process. It also at this point that the friend left behind gives his or her final verdict of the situation concerning the suicide of their friend. Once again the band stays spot on in harmony between the lyrical and instrumental narrative. They never abandon this throughout the album whatsoever.
Death Of A Dream -Bonus Track sees the friend left behind continue to question this situation. In this surreal moment somehow they find a little clarity of mind. The instrumental breaks perfectly with the lyrical narrative.The person left behind living is questioning whether or not this has been a long dream however reconciles that it was in fact reality. On the other hand, this song can be interpreted as the struggle of the person who took their life. This is also a bonus track from the album that really concludes all the narrative from the seven previous songs. This is also the final battle of the living one versus the voice of Fear. It depends on the listener to decide on this one. This is also the epic of the album clocking in at 15:59. Throughout the song the complex time signatures and chord progressions allow the listener no time whatsoever to get bored with this well crafted composition. Towards the end this track gives the listener a sense of security that there is hope to move forward from the what their friend did.
The thing that the listener can take away from Thoughts Factory Lost is that suicide is very real. It also speaks at the fact that we can all educate ourselves to notice the warning signs of a loved one thinking about suicide and to stage an intervention before it is too late. Although we can never be prepared for a person we love to commit suicide does not mean we are totally helpless to make a real concentrated effort to help them detour it. I have provided links in the ‘Contact Links’ Section’ on how you can and what you can do to get proper information concerning the signs someone you love could be a danger to themselves. This is a score of 5/5 all day long. However as I write this I would certainly hope you take something meaningful and helpful with and for you.
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