Immaculate Machine's latest release Fables is speckled
with elements of indie-pop, folk-rock, alternative country, and Americana
shadings. The trio, who are natives of Victoria, British Columbia,
is comprised of vocalist/keyboardist Kathryn Calder, vocalist/guitarist
Brooke Gallupe, and vocalist/drummer Luke Kozlowski.
They create three part harmonies as their music shows samples of folk-rock
textures with a Broken Social Scene-idling, alternative-country
characteristics honorable of Rosanne Cash, and Americana hues
with a Nickel Creek gentility and newgrass couture.
Produced by John Collins and David Carswells, Fables
offers additional instrumentation with gorgeous string arrangements
composed by Owen Pallett and Michael Olson, a resounding
musical saw played by Olivia Meek, percussion and synth tremors
performed by John Collins, and background vocals from Leslie Rewaga,
Caitlin Gallupe, and Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos,
along with The Cribs plumping up the chorus parts. The album
ranges from upbeat to solemn tunes and makes excellent use of alternating
female and male vocals giving the songs a deeper dimension and counter
The songs have a folk-club vibe commencing the album with the country-tinged
newgrass grooves of "Jarhand" which exudes Americana-enhanced
rhythm guitars and vocals sitting on the catchy beats with a syncopation
like Gram Parsons. The vocal registers and melodic phrases
are upbeat and keep the listener's feet tapping. The bobbing rhythm
is joyful as Kathryn attests, "Always want what you don't understand/
A hand in the jar then a jar on the hand/ You don't have to go very
far looking for trouble
Jarhand all according to your plans/
Your number's coming up/ You've got yours coming up." The lyrics
use some slang words as they make observations about people's behavior
and dispense advice. There is an impression that Immaculate Machine
has seen a great deal and acquired wisdom from the tribulations they
have experienced and witnessed.
The alternative country attributes on tracks like "Dear Confessor"
and "C'mon Sea Legs" have a folk-rock throttle similar to
The Transplants. The bustling dance-rock tempo and jangly beats
on "Nothing Ever Happens" deliver a Broken Social Scene
activity while the solemn mood of "Northeastern Wind" has
a delicate vocal pitch likened to Lindsey Haun. The melodic
movements have satiny funnels and a pensive scope that entrap the
listener in their vacuums. The folk-rock tapestries of "Pocket"
and "Old Flame" are tasseled with prairie-fancied newgrass
guitar flanges tied to strong, steady beats and vocals that give the
melodic phrases an emotive pulse. The wispy string arrangements on
"Small Talk" subtly enshroud the country-folk bedding and
make the willowy momentum of "Blinding Light" feel delicate
and dainty in the listener's ear, but my favorite track on the album
is the dark, haunting "Roman Statues." The tune has a stout
country rhythm like Johnny Cash and Gary Allen with
angelic string arrangements and harp-toned trimmings brushing softly
through the melody. Every pulsating beat and chord action moves in
harmony with the others. It is an album that can be viewed in many
different ways from indie-pop to folk-rock or alternative-country.
Immaculate Machine's album Fables represents them all.
Formed in 2002, Immaculate Machine's members came together in high
school. They were attending the University of Victoria while making
the band's albums with a discography that includes their EP The
View in 2003, their albums Transporter in 2004 and Ones
And Zeroes in 2005, and their EP Les Uns Mais Pas Les Autres
in 2006. The band has moved rapidly with a name they took from a Paul
Simon song. Though the lead vocals rotate among the members, the
songs have an inescapable cohesiveness. It is as if all three songwriters
have like-minds and their songs come from that one place.
Many people clump Immaculate Machine with The New Pornographers
because The New Pornographers frontman Carl Newman is Kathryn
Calder's uncle. Kathryn has played the piano for The New Pornographers,
but in the case of Fables, it is fair to say that Immaculate
Machine show equal portions of country and folk in their indie-pop.
Whichever way Immaculate Machine meant to take Fables, it is
an album that shows like-minds coming together and streaming their
harmonies as if they were able to read each other's thoughts.
2. Dear Confessor
3. Roman Statues
4. Old Flame
5. Small Talk
6. Nothing Ever Happens
7. Northeastern Wind
8. C'mon Sea Legs
10. Blinding Light
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