AMPLIFIER MACHINE REVIEW ON THE SILENT BALLET

October 03 2008

Amplifier Machine are something of an anomaly in the Australian post-rock/experimental rock/instrumental rock/whatever-else-you-want-to-call-it scene. While solo experimental artists explore the more uncharted routes of guitar sounds, and dozens of bands combine elements of more conventional instrumental stylings, Amplifier Machine picks a space in between, using an ensemble setting in order to create guitar, piano, and drum based ambient post-rock. The three members of Amplifier Machine have their fair share of success as solo artists and in other bands: Seth Rees as a solo experimental guitarist and a member of the extremely loud The Spheres and duo I Want A Hovercraft, Alex Jarvis as a solo songwriter and in Registered Nurse, Black Cab, Automatic, and Fast Piss Blues Band, and James Dixon again as a solo artist and with bands Swordfish and Supergroop. The collaboration of these three minds is one of intriguing approach. In defining the way music would be created under the Amplifier Machine banner, the members settled upon "The Rule": that when the other two members have settled, it's your turn to change. Of course, this is going simply by the band's biography, which itself has a tone of flippancy, but this idea certainly seems to have a place in Her Mouth Is An Outlaw.
The first release from Amplifer Machine was a split EP with a-mo. While a-mo's side was a focused and well constructed, 8 minute, three track affair, Amplifier Machine gave up nearly 20 minutes of ambient soundscape that sounded like (and probably was) a cutout from a far longer jam session. As a result, these recordings came across as something of a disorganised mess, that wasn't the most exciting piece of music around.It seems, from the effort put forth on Her Mouth Is An Outlaw, the flaws of the sound offered on the split have been cleaned up, with the presentation of a sound that is both engaging and unique.
The title track is the best example of where Amplifier Machine have improved on the previous effort. With the beautiful flow of a piano roll and a guitar line that lightly recalls Because of Ghosts, the rich but spacey 9-minute song moves through minimal, near-imperceivable change, to grow into a blooming, emotional piece that staves away from what seemed to be an alienation of the listener in previous releases.
While some pieces on the album are similar to the ambient soundscapes of the split, they are approached with a greater sense of progression. Shorter tracks "Into The Nearest Chair," "Some Place Nowhere All The Time," and "Up With The Curtain Down With Your Pants" are interpersed between the 7+ minute efforts, demonstrating the many characters of Amplifier Machine in a faithful light, exploring both the very extremes and the simplest of guitar sounds.
Her Mouth Is An Outlaw is Amplifer Machine's sound presented with poise and balance, an attractively compiled consolidation to the best elements of the band's sound. From the most chaotic to the calmest of formless guitar ambient sound, and tentative chordal analogue progressions, this album is a unique and beautiful experience.
-Marcus Whale
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