I guess the cover art and the title says it all really. Yet if you know that the album is out on Moonjune Records, you might also suspect that this will not be a regular covers album. And you would be spot on with that assumption.
Machine Mass is a trio consisting of Michel Delville on guitar, samples. loops and electronics, Tony Bianco on drums and Antoine Guenet on piano and keyboards. And they have taken a lot of liberty with the 9 Hendrix songs they choose to record. Even to the extent that many of them are hardly recognisable anymore. To some extent that has to be praised because of the creativity. On the other hand, if it sounds unfamiliar, why cover it?
So I guess it is a double edged knife for me. Musicianship is always tight on the label’s releases. But the rocker in me misses much of the hooks that identify the songs. You have a listen and decide for yourself what you make of it.
The MoonJune Records label is home to many artists that refuse to limit themselves to play within just one genre, let alone play songs within standard three chord pop formats. And while some still manage to create music that speaks relatively easy to the ears, others are so free of boundaries, those actually do not exist at all.
Machine Mass, with Tony Bianco on drums and loops, Michelle Delville on guitar, guitar synthesiser and electronics and Dave Liebman on saxes and flute, definitely fall in the latter category. So this means a lot of improvising on often extended loops, odd time signatures and a lot of soloing. Sometimes a bit Zappa-esque I felt. But that is just lacking a better reference. The musicians act, react and interact with all that is going on. Some parts are lighter and hold more simple melodies, while in other places the playing just seems to blur into whirlwinds of ideas.
Yet there is no denying these men are experienced players (the level of improvisation tells that), but they are also never afraid to use their deep understanding of all things musical to just play. And even the one song with a vocal (from Saba Tewelde) takes time to digest. So you really have to hang in to be able to cling on. Which is probably why this is never likely to become mainstream. Does that matter? No it does not. For anyone familiar with the names, or into jazz, dive in.