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An Endless Sporadic - Magic Machine CD (album) cover

MAGIC MACHINE

An Endless Sporadic

 

Progressive Metal

3.85 | 37 ratings

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Luqueasaur
4 stars Eclectic, unique, metallic and highly vivacious: 8/10

You see, AN ENDLESS SPORADIC gained much prominence after their song Impulse I was added as an "additional track" on Guitar Hero 3, the most popular installment of the legendary "play-a-guitar" game. Many teens, me included, were amazed by this strange and highly creative composition, unlike everything we had heard until then. It was definitely metal... or was it? Different from roughly all tracks on the game, Impulse was not labellable. I didn't know what amazing music genre it was, all I knew is that I loved it. It was delightful when I discovered that it was "progressive metal", whatever progressive meant.

Fast-forward two years and I became a prog-aficionado; add one year to this time skip and AN ENDLESS SPORADIC had released a full album. Oh boy, when that news came to my ears I was simply hyped to the bone. I always thought Zach was underrated and I kept this mentality until I found out big players from DREAM THEATER (Rudess), THE FLOWER KINGS (Reingold and Stolt), SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM (Mellender) and ANIMALS AS LEADERS (Nevene) accepted teaming up with him. Seems like they recognized Kamins' potential, as much as Zach recognized theirs, and utilized it to the maximum, culminating in this progressive and metal delicatessen.

MAGIC MACHINE is characterized by the constant tempo swings (variation between calm and slow) and mood variations (change of structure/"musical feel") within a single song. This confers the album much dynamism and energy as well relative complexity. We can say there's not a referential core that unites the concept of all songs; they're pretty distinctive on their own. It is also easily observable that, although countless instruments are featured, the guitar is the most prominent one, taking leading rhythmical roles in pieces on roughly all tracks - that's what makes this "prog metal" and not "symphonic/eclectic prog" after all. So, under this perspective, there's enough content to please both prog rockers and metalheads alike. Lastly, while this is indisputably a metal record, it's leaning to "hard rocking" rather than "extreme metal", with a highly cheerful and joyful sonority. In short, don't expect melancholy.

Another thing that really called my attention is that almost all songs (more visible on the first four tracks) seem to follow a rather narrative structure. You can imagine them being soundtracks to stories being told, and that confers a somewhat synesthetic approach (you can connect what you hear to what you'd read or watch) to MAGIC MACHINE. I'll use this "narrative" style on many song descriptions, which are just right down below:

The Departure, solidly an allegoric prog metal track, features several interesting passages under the energetic metal guitar riffages where a slightly jazzy foundation sustains everything. Rudess (keyboards) and Mellender (marimba/glockenspiel) do a lot of work. Highly enjoyable. (7/10)

Magic Machine intro is no less mystical than of a medieval fantasy movie, where an excited piano slowly builds up the momentum. The Moog Voyager is highly present on the lighthearted, dreamy main riffs that succeed the intro. The outro builds up the tension as the guitar passages become heavier and the synthesizers more distorted. Overall it feels a lot like a Legend of Zelda soundtrack. And there's a dandy guitar solo. (8/10)

Galactic Tactic greets the listener with heavy synthesizers on a voyaging space-rock energy. The main section becomes much epic with the repeating keyboard progression and posterior retake of the synth introduction as well as arrival melodic guitar notes. A calmer, jazzier section hits, which survives until the song's outro. (7/10)

Finding the Falls features energetic guitar riffs and highly cheerful and unpretentious guitar passage - that really sounds like neo-prog/alt-rock - playing alternately. Chris Bleth is featured in the midsection, with his Pan-like flute abilities. Shortly after, a complex heavy guitar riffage strikes, followed by an absolutely beautiful violin/guitar duet. These two elements join together and the violin goes wickedly mad along the djenty background of the guitar riffs. The violin/guitar duet returns, accompanied by an epic western-sounding French horn. The outro climaxes and the song then ends. Undoubtfully the high point of the album. (9/10)

The Assembly... or is it "La Aventura de Los Mariachis"? Our Mariachis, on the nowheres of the brutally hot Mojave Desert, march, accompanied only by their friends, el trumpetero and el cornetero. They then meet el glockenspielador and el pianista. The musical assembly progressively grows in varied sounds and countless el -eros to enrichen the our Mariachi fellas' soundtrack. It takes not long before el guitarista and el violinista arrive too, which transforms the musical passage intro a metallic distorted riff. Too bad el guitarista's metal approach blew the mood. Still, a good track. (7/10)

Agile Descent sounds, if anything, a noir detective soundtrack. Just as jazzy as you might expect, and Reingold's bass is easily highlightable (on the first part of the song). The bohemian atmosphere is broken as tense violins and guitar riffs strike in and the "metal" part of the equation shows up, but frankly, it breaks the mood of an otherwise delicious song. (6/10)

Sky Run is the embodiment of what AN ENDLESS SPORADIC's music represents and a dignified creativity successor of Impulse I. The joviality and interest of all personnel involved to build the complex riffs and maddened keyboard and guitar riffs are easily visible thanks to the top notch musicianship. Stolt's furious guitar and Rudess' beautiful keyboards are easy highlights. (8/10)

Through the Fog begins on a lullaby-esque (thanks to the world's cutest instrument, the glockenspiel) sound, but things get slightly more excited as (still mellow) guitar, bass and (what an emotional!) piano separately introduces themselves. The atmosphere transitions from slow and soft to joyful and amicable (where both Rudess and Stolt shows up), and later then, to... well, uhh, "prog metal"? The third part isn't really interesting. An absolutely delicious Moog Voyager solo strikes in, but other than that, this metal part honestly feels UNFOLDED LIKE STARCAISE by DISCIPLINE was ripped off (that take metaphorically - it obviously wasn't). (7/10)

Sea Voyage's heartfelt piano introduces the song, followed by the most YES-ish of the keyboards. The next part, however, is played on the floaty Voyager (and on the tropical kalimba), and not on the keyboard. The guitar shows up, but something tells me the plethora of keyboard instruments didn't invite it to the party as it doesn't fit well, too good most of the 'metal' part is occupied by Stolt melodic solo. I need to remind myself to listen to THE FLOWER KINGS... (8/10)

A single glockenspiel note on the ending of the voyage announces the arrival...

Of Impulse II! I love how they feature a kalimba instead of the bubbling keyboards on the pre-heavy part. In general, the song is preserved as if Zach immersed it into amber. Something tells me he merely asked for his new assembly to give a take on band's all-time classic without adding anything almost anything new. Honestly? It's just perfect. (9/10)

In my opinion, it would be too presumptuous to define this as a "masterpiece of prog rock music", but even so, MAGIC MACHINE is a pleasant and refreshing experience (enough with this technical metal being called prog for the sake of nomenclature!) that'll hardly find opposition when putting in perspective enjoyability. It's a versatile album, so it can fits the criteria of countless different tastes, and as BrufordFreak said, a solid four-stars rating - but differently from him, it's pleasing to imagine this as the future of prog metal. See? We have divergent opinions but even so we agree it's this is fine material. Good job, AN ENDLESS SPORADIC.

Luqueasaur | 4/5 |

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