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Band: Fun Machine

CD Title: “Sonnenhuhn”

Band Website: www.myspace.com/funmachine

Label: BNS Session

Label Website: www.bnssessions.com

Release Date: 2008

 

When you tell a band….”sure send me your stuff”…you are never quite sure what’s going to arrive. So it was with New Jersey band Fun Machine. So the package with their first CD Sonnenhuhn arrives and I’m looking at the photos and hmmm….from those stage shots it looks like a strong psychedelic influence and the group photo…hmmm…I’m actually reminded a bit of Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come episode. Then I put the disc on…and this I’m not prepared for. This is bona fide, modern prog with all kinds of musical flashbacks.

 

Fun Machine are a four piece consisting of John Piatkowski (keyboards, vocals), Andrew Wetzel (guitars, bass, vocals), Renee Maskin (bass, guitars), and Colin Ryan (drums, percussion). The music on their first disc Sonnenhuhn is a real treat. We have eight tracks, including a couple of long ones that exude an amazing energy. We start out with a track called “Sun Chicken” [1:50] which begins with a droning ambience before evolving into a kind of Brian Wilson workshop horror of saws and hammers all building to a rhythmic frenzy which then slides right into the discordant marching intro of “Blok People” [9:06], an intro which builds in intensity to a chord that is held, suspended for almost a full minute before a series of cascading crescendos occur and the process is repeated only this time the moment is sweetened by some Mellotron sounding keyboards. At about the three-minute mark, the band pulls back and goes all introverted-groovy-combo-like for a bit, before re-launching into versions of the opening themes. Arpeggios and solo stylings are flying everywhere. The music is at times super-busy, then soft and ambient and everyone has their time in the spotlight from the up-front bass lead-lines, the searing guitars, hectic ever-changing drum patterns and of course all the keyboards. The structure and arrangement of the band’s other epic “Family Vapor” [15:15] is equally varied, but with even more intensity. Each of these tunes is loaded with plenty very pleasing majestic proggy power chords, and satisfying ‘Tron sounds. There is also a very quirky bent running through these compositions; that Arthur Brown influence perhaps mixed with a large dose of Frank Zappa particularly in the vocal department. This influence also lends these compositions many light-hearted or off-beat moments, you get the distinct impression these guys are having a blast making this music. The music on Sonnenhuhn at times can be very dramatic and then just as quickly go all weird and cheesy, but in a good way.

 

Fun Machine has developed a very unique and distinctive sound. There’s a bit of Zappa, a bit of Crack the Sky, a bit of Kingdom Come, even a bit of Devo and on top of all that there is a strong retro prog sound running through these compositions but it’s completely updated in terms of the band’s performance style and writing approach. Personally I also loved the fact that Mellotron choirs and strings show up all over these songs. If you are looking for something just a bit different, and yet hits all the right progressive rock notes I urge you to check out Fun Machine.

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