Sunday, 3 March 2019

The New Mind Machine Album "Return To The Machine" Reviewed

Mind Machine have just released a new album called "Return To the Machine", but before we get to that let's delve into the history books.

I was really suprised to learn that the band originally started out in 1989 and ended up splitting up in 1995 and reformed as a duo in 2016, with original members Brian Belknap and Brian Olsen. The first release as a duo was the compilation "The Very Best Of Mind Machine 1990-1995, which featured new vocal recordings and previously unheard tracks.

In 2017 they released 2 EP's "Demonstration_01" and "Demostration_02" and in 2018 they released 2 tracks off their "Return To The Machine" album, as singles, "Enlightened Heart" and "We Keep Talking".

And that brings us to the new album "Return To The Machine".....

The opening track is the title track which is an instrumental, clearly influenced by Vince Clarke and also early Depeche Mode, layers of sequenced parts build the track up really well, next we have "The Pain You feel", an uptempo track that again features interesting sequencer segments, the vocals reminded me a little of Elegant Machinery, possibly another band that has influenced them, good solid chorus on this track, a well constructed track, I like the simple melodic parts working in tandem with the vocals.

Next we have one of the tracks released as a single "We Keep Walking", it is easy to see why it was released as a single, a very strong track with trademark "Vince Clarke" synth sounds and melodic parts, great bass-line on the track too, again I am drawn to early depeche Mode and Elegant Machinery. Quite erie and atmospheric in parts, more going on in the mix than you might think.

"Clouds Of Doubt" has a great driving bass-line and some wonderful lead synth parts, great use of sequencer patterns again, fantastic vocals over the synth laden soundtrack, one of my favourite tracks on the album and would be a good choice for a single. Following that we have the other single, released off the album so far, "Enlightend Heart", this was the track that introduced me to Mind Machine, as it was available as a free download on Bandcamp, i'm so glad I discovered them! A fantastic track, upbeat and a bass-line similar in style to the one on the Depeche Mode track "Photographic", there is also good use of bass sounds in general, which are punctuated by excellent syth riffs, another solid vocal, plenty of passion in the vocals across the whole album.

"Hundred Thousand Million" again shows there strength in creating simplistic melody lines that have an impact, a darker mood to this track especially with the string and synth pad parts, I especially like the lead synth melody, a lot going on but everything has it's place in the mix, another strong track.

Following that we have the track "A Letter Never Written", another track I really like, full of melodic hooks and the vocal arrangements are fantastic, a darker sounding track with great use of synths and throbbing bass-line. "Further Than Far" initially reminded me of early Talk Talk, especially the start of the track, the track has another perfect synth bass-line puncuated by some clever sequencer sections, I like the haunting lead/pad sound, the synth piano type melody I really like too. This is a nother big favourite of mine. A superb track.

"Natural Emotion" again follows the blueprint for the bulk of the album, strong and imposing bass-line, melodies galore (again I like the use of a piano on the track), emotional vocal delivery, this one is pure synthpop.

To follow that we have "Decade", which is a beautiful track, a synth ballad complete with piano parts, which helps with the mood of the track, the song has a great sequenced bass-line, I'm not sure about the vocal mix, it sounded a bit detached from the music, the track itself is superb I have to say.

The closing track is "Here And There", sounded a bit like Synthpop band Cosmicity, especially the drum and bass elements, the track has a strong chorus, another dance track, which develops really well, my favourite track off the album, strong melody lines, which took me back to the early 80s.

A very impressive album, there are clear early Depeche Mode and Vince Clarke influences, which make this an album worth investing your time in. They have certainly captured the sound of early 80s synthpop and new wave.


The album is available on CD and as a digital download via Bandcamp, where you can also listen to the entire album:

You can also visit the bands Facebook page here:

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