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Machine and the Synergetic Nuts: Machine and the Synergetic Nuts

I've said it before, but Japan certainly is a hotbed for quality progressive rock and fusion lately, and this instrumental debut from Machine and the Synergetic Nuts certainly falls in the upper echelon. This quartet, comprised of sax, keyboards, bass, and drums, with guests on guitar, percussion, and vibraphone, really smokes at times with a relentless attack of aggressive jazz rock, prog, and Zappa-influenced avant-garde mayhem.

The CD kicks things off in safe, melodic fashion on "Peak", a nice jazzy number that has enough symphonic textures to please the prog crowd, but things really get interesting on the second track, "Or Lots of Squares." This one is a perfect marriage of 70's Canterbury and burning jazz-fusion, with complex time signatures, ripping keyboards and squonkin' sax lines. A similar path is followed on the jazz-funk of "Berlin", which features the alluring Fender Rhodes of Iwata Noriya, whose tone just drips 70's, all while drummer Sudoh Toshiaki blasts away with reckless abandon. "Gate of Difference" is a complex and quirky off-kilter number, with repetitive piano and sax lines, while the 10-minute "Time" brings to mind the early recordings of Passport, or even Soft Machine. Here, Noriya's keyboards are simply wonderful, as he throws everything but the kitchen sink at you (organ, synths, piano), and bassist Suzuki Hiroyuki slips in plenty of Chris Squire influenced bass lines. Guest guitarist Matsue Jun from the band Spoozys makes an appearance on this cut, laying down some impressive Jeff Beck styled solos and licks, plus he trades serious riffs with guest vibraphonist Uki Eiji.

Shades of National Health abound on the complex and jazzy "Tensegrity", featuring great piano lines and wailing sax from Mahi-Mahi, while the band goes for a more pedestrian and contemporary jazz sound on "Metropolican." I detected a little Zeuhl on the raging "A Couple of Kettles", thanks to the pounding, fuzzed out bass lines, swirling keyboards, and jagged sax bursts, which should please some of the Magma fans out there. The last track, "Swang", is a real progressive fusion ripper, again featuring Noriya's impressive "watch me mimic Emerson & Wakeman" textures, as well as Mahi's blazing sax passages and a blitzkrieg guitar solo from Jun.

While perhaps a bit noisier than some of their fellow Japanese brethren, Machine and the Synergetic Nuts have put together an impressive debut that reeks of promise and delivers on many fronts. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, either continuing with their avant-garde & fusion ways, or taking on a more contemporary sound.

Track Listing
1) Peak (4:45)
2) Or Lots of Squares (5:51)
3) Berlin (4:14)
4) Gate of Difference (2:57)
5) Time (10:54)
6) Tensegrity (3:06)
7) Metropolican (2:38)
8) A Couple of Kettles (4:53)
9) Swang (6:41)

Added: March 4th 2004
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Alibaba Records
Hits: 5408
Language: english

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