Saturday, December 11, 2010
Mammal Machine are Yumi Hara Cawkwell (vocals & keyboard), Rie Miyazaki (bass), Mitsuru Tabata (guitar) and Yasuyuki Watanabe (drums & percussion).
The name of the band is derived from various bands and projects that the musicians have been involved with: Soft Machine, Leningrad Blues Machine, Henry Cow, Mandog and Marble Sheep. The first two have 'Machine' in their name, and all the others include at least one mammal.
I've been listening to a couple of albums that Yumi Hara was involved in lately: "Upstream" with Geoff Leigh (out on Moonjune) and "Dream Of The Gryllidae" with Tony Lowe. So I was quite happy & curious after receiving a review copy of "Mitsugi - Esoteric Rituals".
The album is very psychedelic. I'm talking keyboard soundscapes and fuzz guitar. Searching for sounds, experimenting with limits and boundaries.
Out on Captain Trip Records!
by Matt Howarth
This release from 2010 offers 57 minutes of psychedelic rock music.
Mammal Machine is: Yuki Hara Cawkwell (on vocals and keyboards), Mitsuru Tabata (from Leningrad Blues Machine, Acid Mothers Temple, and Zeni Geva) (on guitar), Yasayuki Watanabe (from Mandog) (on drums and percussion), and Rie Miyazaki (from Marble Sheep) (on bass).
Conventional rock instruments produce a startling dose of psychedelic rock with an emphasis on raucous intensity.
The guitar squeals and snarls and blazes and smolders with versatility. Crisp chords achieve a sweet dazzle that glows with charisma.
The bass thunders like some prehistoric beast, releasing foundational vibrations that become an almost palpable environment.
The drums provide rhythms that seem to stumble along in the background (in a very old school jazz way), establishing a nervous touch of anticipation. And then the beats erupt into vigorous tempos of a highly contagious nature.
The keyboards possess a classic edge (that's "classic," not "classical") as characterized by that deep-voiced almost liquid organ found in enviable progressive recordings from the early 70s. These moody keys temper the savagery displayed by the other instruments.
These compositions seethe with unbridled puissance. The songs are mostly instrumental (vocal contents generally showing as enthusiastic non-lyrical expressions) and shine with a lovely blend of classic prog and assertive rock that achieves a distinctly psychedelic altitude. The music is loud and passionate and quite celestial despite its intentional garage personality.
Stewart A. Hamilton
...Japanese psychedelic Krautrock extravaganza...,
6 Jan 2011 By Mr. H "Mr H" (Embra)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
The last time we encountered the artist formerly known as Yumi Hara Cawkwell, she was in the company of the late, jazz legend, Hugh Hopper. Then she popped up with one-time Hatfield and The North / Henry Cow member Geoff Leigh. And now she's found time away from her busy schedule at the University of East London (where I did my trade union training, fact fans) to link up with Japanese musicians Rie Miyazaki (bass), Mitsuru Tabata (guitar) and Yasuyuki Watanabe (drums & percussion).
Tabata, Miyazaki and Watanebe have, between them, served time with Acid Mothers Temple, Mandog and Marble Sheep, so you won't be in the least bit surprised to learn that this is full on psychedelic rock. There are oodles of squalling, fuzzy, trippy guitars for your delectation and anyone who has enjoyed the assorted members earlier works won't be disappointed with this one. Ms Caldwell is responsible for writing all the music, and has done a bang up job on numbers like 'The Lost Archive of the BMIC', 'Das Glasperlenspiel' and 'Aquatic Mammal Suite - Whale - Dugong - Dolphin - Orca'.
In particular, 'The Lost Archive of the BMIC' sees the various members testing themselves out with some intricated and impressive musical stylings. Ms Caldwell lays down some nifty keyboard work, and the rest of the band join in on a musical brainstorm. The album mixes up classic psych, a wee bit of Krautrock, some spacerock and, understandably given Ms Caldwells pedigree, a soupcon of Canterbury. All in all, it's a cracker of a record, and one that those who like it out on the fringes will find very much to their liking.
Tremendous music talent holders bumping together ... sometimes their creation can go well, and sometimes cannot.
MAMMAL MACHINE have got started as a novel psychedelic rock project around a talented musician Yumi Hara CAWKWELL. Not only Yumi but also the members around her are terrifically renowned and skilled ones, experienced in psychedelic progressive rock. A super project as it is said. Throughout this album, Yasuyuki WATANABE's flexible and drastic percussion & drumming, and Mitsuru TABATA's fuzzy, trippy guitar squeeze are very impressive for listeners definitely. And Yumi's keyboard play can invade into our heart smoothly (and often aggressively). Please let me recommend especially the last track "The Lost Archive Of The BMIC", where the four talented gangsters do a bulky instrumental battle against each other and simultaneously create a magnificent psychedelia we cannot have met. Completely free style they have showed but we cannot help feeling their perfect unity. Furthermore, would you like to touch the first track "Das Glasperlenspiel" (title in German!) and feel mysterious, sensual, hypnotic world in them? And very fantastic the bridge between "Fledermäuse Auf Der Autobahn" and "Pferdeeisenbahn" is ... "Fledermäuse" can remind me fantasia by Neu! or Amon Düül, and suddenly contrastive cloudy darkness comes via "Pferdeeisenbahn", with Rie's deep, deeeep bass earthquake. As honestly I say, this one could let me cherish a huge hope that we can get a novel Japanese psychedelic progressive gem.
Back to my opening remark - sadly the other tracks could not ring my bell, as the first and the last could do. It's said all songs were composed by the outfit under improvisation, and lyrics written by Yumi ... I wish she could exert more of her personality and originality ... but aggressively loud guitar and percussion sounds (by Mitsuru and Yasuyuki) drive out her delicate and sensitive keyboard work methinks. I've felt LBM-ish or Marbie flavour there, not Yumi's authentic music roots collective. Indeed this creation is great as a psychedelic progressive rock stuff, though.
So that let me say, in this project work they cannot exert "their" perfect originality, due to perfect originality of each player.
MAMMAL MACHINE are a new super group from Japan. Every single member brings much experience from other bands in (Leningrad Blues Machine, Marble Sheep, Boredoms). Keyborder Yumi Hara Cawkwell is also known for collaborating with diverse canterbury respectively jazz rock artists like Hugh Hopper or David Cross. Now at the end of 2010 this debut album was ready to be released on the famous Captain Trip Records label. Although rooted in psychedelic respectively spacey fields they widen the scope a lot towards krautrock and avantgarde here. I bet they've jammed for some hours and took the most promising excerpts to fill roundabout 60 minutes of rather experimental soundscapes.
So we have a really impressing start with Das Glasperlenspiel - wow ... a German title deriving from the eponymous Hermann Hesse novel I assume. And another wow ... what a wonderful jam is this, including (Japanese?) gong, some mysterious vocals ... and excellent soaring space guitar. The following Tale Of Eight Dog comes nearly in the same vein, bearing an hypnotic deep toned bass line and fuzzy electric guitar work. This is quite accessible so far, but gradually they step forward to more weirdness then.
The avant/krautrock flavoured The Don't Look Prohibition holds several portions, faded in and out - first starting with a strong 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene' spirit .. ohhh, this warms my heart .. but then the prohibition claims attention, hahahaha ... they turn to another mood, a spaced out behaviour comprising bells, cymbals, diverse percussion instruments, otherworldly voices, creepy synths ... finally drifting into the cacophonous Quagga cosmos. But then The Lost Primer For The Secret Do falls back into space groove territories in between.
The Can/Amon Düül inspired Fledermäuse Auf der Autobahn showcases delicious vocals by Cawkwell where the halting Pferdeeisenbahn is another exemplar full of soaring space guitars which do not fail to reach for high altitudes here. Finally The Lost Archive Of The BMIC shows them off the beaten path due to an intense avantgarde attitude - the only song providing some keyboard work including piano which is really dominant.
MAMMAL MACHINE's output is definitely not dedicated to the last hour before you go to bed because very ambitious and not really relaxing. Sometimes the sound quality comes crude, probably with intent while adapting simple retro(spective) recording circumstances. Crawkwell's vocal contributions are rather excentric, however her organ work is generally restrained - which one or two will regret - in opposite to Mitsuru Tabata's varied and offensive guitar work. Due to their experimental spirit/approach, which shimmers through all the way, I consider this essential and very interesting for avant psych and krautrock lovers.
LAZY SMOKEY DAMN!
Review by Yoshiharu Okoshi (JAPANESE)
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