The Secret Machines

Looks like the Secret's out...

Feature by Jon Seller | 17 Mar 2006

During the promotional rounds for the Secret Machines' last album 'Now Here Is Nowhere', drummer Josh Garza claimed "We're just trying to make music that connects with people, connects with the cosmos, and connects with the gods."

Now, in the run-up to their second long-player, the band's ambitions seem more grounded: "we just want to carry on doing what we love, and that's playing music" says a slightly weary multi-instrumentalist, Brandon Curtis. "When you've found something beautiful and powerful, the trick is to keep it going. It's a balance, like we're balanced precariously on top of a needle - our ambition is to maintain that balance."

Formed in the fallout from a number of Texan outfits, Josh Garza and brothers Ben and Brandon Curtis regrouped with a plan – they'd leave behind a stale scene and make things happen elsewhere, New York style. Not wanting to incur financial ruin, the band decided to get some tracks recorded somewhere a little more affordable before hitting the Big Apple, so they ended up in Chicago recording their debut EP 'September 000'.

Although completed in 2000, it wasn't until 2002 that up-and-coming label 679 Recordings gave the music world their first taste of the Secret Machines' sonic offerings. Adjectives were, and still are, bandied around with little restraint when these offerings are described. Ambient, atmospheric, spatial and hypnotic are the mainstays, although what is an absolute constant is the utter uselessness of trying to pigeonhole this band. "It's human nature to relate music to another reference point, not that we like it but you've just got to accept that it happens", laments Curtis. Once in New York, and with some hard-work on the gigging circuit, word started to spread. The new hometown Press was impressed enough to label them 'best live act in New York', not bad considering the Strokes-led NY revival occurring at that time.

However, it wasn't until the release of their first album proper that notions of grandeur started becoming a little more realistic. The band's eye-opening New York years had left their mark, to be manifested in late-2002's 'Now Here is Nowhere' – an intelligent and uncompromising record of, at times, epic proportions. The album spawned the singles Sad and Lonely and Nowhere Again, and with these gems the Secret Machines' stock rose.

Without losing any of their past melodic integrity, the band had managed to create tunes of Pink Floyd-esque beauty that also fit in with the spiky, guitar-rock zeitgeist of the new millennium - and all with only three band members, surely there was some nifty production? Not at all, says Brandon: "what you hear live is what is on the record. We basically go into the studio and play, and that's what we do on stage".

So here we are, on the eve of the band's second LP release, 'Ten Silver Drops', and the Secret Machines have been raising their profile, especially on these shores: "we love the UK, it has such a great history of open-minded support for music. The crowd are always up for a good rock and roll show." On hearing their latest offering, this is hardly surprising - it's a certified cracker. Eight songs and 45 minutes of truly original, yet accessible space rock which should definitely bring their cosmic aspirations a little closer to fruition. Looks like the Secret's out.

Ten Silver Drops' is released on March 27.