mind over machine album review

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The first review for our new album Mind Over Machine is in! Thank you to Michael Smith (Rhythms Magazine, Freelance Music Writer)

earprojector – Mind Over Machine

Written over an intensely cold winter month in Berlin, Mind Over Machine is the third album from Blue Mountains, NSW-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Raman Menon, and this time his aural landscapes are a little more tightly focused than on its predecessor, Avant-Pop Dirt. Like the previous album, the electronic heartbeat at the core of the sound might propel things along but this time it is the human overlay of guitars, keyboard melodies and, of course, the voice, alone or in harmony, that commands the machinery, the titular mind over machine. Menon even lets his “Rock Guitar Beast Within” loose on Another Kind Of Love. The heavy reliance on those machines across much of the album inevitably means the sound is grounded in the synth-pop of the 1980s, but Menon never allows the “pop” card to overrule the demands of the mind and its attendant emotions to explore the potential of more experimental textures to evoke the necessary tension here or dreaminess there, though there’s still a place for the traditional, even nostalgic, on the more straightforward, piano-driven Blue Nile meets The Beatles pop of What I Thought I Wanted To Find. The darker side subtly threatens in I Never Thought You’d Be A Popstar ‘Cause Celebrities Are So Passé, a reminder that Menon is writing in a post-Marilyn Manson landscape, though, like Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, even Brian Hugh Warner couldn’t help but wear his own Beatles influences on his musical sleeve. Perhaps that’s what makes the simple brass arrangements that drench both What I Thought… and Monday’s Song – very George Martin British mill town bands rather than ersatz Blood Sweat & Tears R&B – so endearing. Menon suggests Mind Over Machine is his most personal work to date. That may be so, but where the man behind the music and the machines seems most vulnerably human is the final song on the album, Endless Days, which begins with just his voice, raw, emotional, accompanied only piano. The embellishments that take over halfway through and see out the voiceless rest of the song allows us to perhaps step back and ponder our own experiences of lost opportunities with those who most mattered to us.

Playing and producing every sound on the recording, Menon calls on keyboards player Dilara Ay, bass player Greg Charlton and drummer Ian Dunn when performing, the musicians given the freedom to interpret his music in their own voices, giving the live experience a strong improvisational sensibility. It’s obviously a winning combination – Menon took earprojector, the band, throughout Berlin this past January for a second tour. Let’s hope that, post-COVID-19, Australia also gets to experience the Blue Mountains based band live.

MICHAEL SMITH

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