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Immaculate Machine
Mint Records

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 perspectives.

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.

-Susan Frances

1. Jarhand
2. Dear Confessor
3. Roman Statues
4. Old Flame
5. Small Talk
6. Nothing Ever Happens
7. Northeastern Wind
8. C'mon Sea Legs
9. Pocket
10. Blinding Light

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