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 I — Just 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