Everyone in Washington University’s club, the Gargoyle, was becoming noticeably uncomfortable last Sunday night. The continuous ringing of a loud, low and synthetic G had been going on for the past ten minutes. The sound tech was calmly checking equipment and tuning guitars.
"Dude, this shit has been goin on for like ten minutes straight," I hear off to the right. And then, as if waiting for someone to get almost too annoyed, the lights went out and the Secret Machines took the stage, bathed in neon blue. Josh Garza began a thundering drum beat, complementing the drone of the note still ringing loud and clear. The Brothers Curtis, Benjamin and Brandon, came in with otherwordly sounds on guitar and keyboard respectively, and the epic "First Wave Intact" had begun.
Even after ten spaced-out-guitar-riffing minutes the Machines kept rolling, right into another trip. And that is how the show continued, not unlike the Machines' debut full length Now Here Is Nowhere [Reprise].
The Secret Machines’ live show can best be described as hypnotizing—and this is a sound that can really only be heard live. The album, while great, just doesn’t convey the atmosphere and feeling; the throbbing bass, dimmed lighting and a smoky room that are the icing on the psychedelic-alternative cake.
The entire record consists of songs rarely less than four minutes long, and ranging up to nine. The Secret Machines have a penchant for tunes that will start off quiet and mellow and slowly build to a full roar of synth and distorted guitar. You may very well hear the Pink Floyd influence.
"Who isn't influenced by Pink Floyd, is what I wanna know," says keyboardist/bass player/vocals Brandon Curtis. "They're one of the most successful and influential bands in the history of rock music, and I think everyone has to owe a debt to them."
"I don't think we're as influenced [by Floyd] as people say we are..." brother Ben (guitar, vocals) interjects.
Drummer Garza has yet a third opinion. "It also depends on how you say it...some people hate Floyd," he says with a smile.
Brandon adds, "some people like to differentiate between era's of Pink Floyd that are 'cool' and those that aren't." Dark Side of the Moon versus Animals anyone? Regardless of which hair you want to split, The Secret Machines is definitely something different in a growing line of manufactured pop. Perhaps their label has finally decided its time for a change, and this trio is their Secret.