The M Machine

When it comes to experimentation, San Francisco-based electronic group The M Machine are risk-takers.

From dabbling with Japanese voice synthesizers in “Superflat” to tapping the creators of Superjail! and Ugly Americans on “Tiny Anthem,” they’re a group known for their innovation in sound. Dropping just last week on record label OWSLA, Just Like is their most audacious release to date, and marks a transition from their previous releases Metropolis Pt. I and Pt. II. Departing from their electro-house-influenced style — defined by processed vocals over washed out synths, as seen in “Tiny Anthem” on Metropolis Part II, and the standard buildup-into-drops, like on “Shadow in the Rose Garden” off of Metropolis Part IJust Like picks aggressive, crisper beats but ditches the buildup completely.

The title track “Just Like” is the most suggestive of this transition in style — with little warning, heavily processed vocals layered over a warbled-synth suddenly drop into a future garage beat reminiscent of Disclosure. The combination is odd, and many other tracks on the EP follow a similar pattern of processed vocal that lead into a shuddering bassline.

However, one track poorly blends with the rest of the EP; “Over/Love” is a standard pop (hipster-friendly) dance tune, a fine track on its own; it could be even argued that it plays perfectly to The M Machine’s strength of mixing EDM and indie. Yet, in the context of Just Like, it’s kind of out of place. The tracks that come before and after it are strikingly different — remindful of the stark difference of the Just Like EP from the rest of The M Machine’s discography. It’s too soon to say if the change is permanent, but it certainly deviates away from the group’s characteristic style. This isn’t to say that the change is necessarily a bad thing, but it may leave those more familiar with The M Machine, well, a little confused.

While the departure in style on Just Like may expose The M Machine to more listeners, one can not help but feel that this may alienate some existing fans. This may be attributed to the length and its lack of coherency — both within itself and within the rest of the electro-house movement. Whether this is just another phase of experimentation for The M Machine or if Just Like is indicative of a more permanent shift in overall style, it is still a little premature to tell.

Stream the full album on YouTube.

Article by John Luan



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