MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS
Classic Fusion / Avant-Garde Jazz / (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion • Multi-National

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Originally born as a side-project of douBt, this new trio led by Tony Bianco (on drums and loops) and Michel Delville (on guitar, bouzouki and live effects) also includes emerging Belgian talent Jordi Grognard on saxophones, bass clarinet and flute. “As Real as Thinking” is an amazing mix of fiery licks, catchy themes, telepathic rhythms, shamanic soundscapes and processed loops -- testifying to the band’s compositional flair and extraordinary musicianship. The music is meaningfully condensed -- consistently powerful without being overwhelming -- and will appeal to fans of progressive jazz, world music and rock audiences with an ear for the unusual. The CD sounds alternately groovy and meditative, trancy and punkish, modern and ethnic, cloudy and clear. It also features an explosive 18-minute duet between Bianco and Delville (guitarist also with MoonJune Recording artists' The Wrong Object) -- showcasing the musicians’ seemingly boundless energy, and extraordinary capacity to listen to read more...
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MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS Discography

MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
As Real as Thinking
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 2011
.. Album Cover 3.66 | 4 ratings
Inti
Avant-Garde Jazz 2014
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Plays Hendrix
Classic Fusion 2017

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MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS Reviews

MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS Plays Hendrix

Album · 2017 · Classic Fusion
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js
If you are going to make a tribute album, you might as well aim high, and that is what Machine Mass has done on their latest outing as they take on the timeless songs of Jimi Hendrix. Not only was Hendrix a pyrotechnical guitar wizard, but he was also a gifted songwriter and tireless innovator in the studio. It’s a tall order to try and do something new with these Hendrix creations, but Machine Mass does well in rising to the occasion, mostly by not trying to imitate Jimi too much. Instead, Machine Mass manage to draw something new out of these well known tracks by following their own musical instincts. For those unfamiliar with the group, Mass consists of Michel Deville on guitar and electronics, and Tony Bianco on drums. On past albums they were joined by a guest woodwind player, but this time around they opt for avant art rocker, Antoine Guenet from Universe Zero, on keyboards, who brings much to the Mass mix.

This CD opens strong with a roving psychedelic jam on “Third Stone from the Sun”. Delville quite wisely does not attempt to imitate Hendrix, but instead supplies his own blazing fusion/rock solos. Bianco’s drumming, on the other hand, does seem to be a tribute to the style of Mitch Mitchell, a stylistic tribute that Bianco maintains throughout the whole album, although Tony flavors his Mitchell type approach with a bit more free post bop swing. The end result is one can hear just how jazz influenced Mitch was when he was jamming with Jimi, its not a far leap from Mitchell’s drum style to a more free-form post bop approach. Some of the other best tracks on this CD come early on, especially “Spanish Castle Magic”, which gives Guenet a chance to provide an over the top B3 solo that is parts Jamie Saft, the young Jon Lord and classic horror movie soundtracks. It would have been nice to hear more Guenet B3 solos on here, he has a very unique and intense take on organ soloing.

Generally, the songs on here don’t adhere too closely to Jimi’s versions, but instead use his music as a jumping off point for free form psychedelic fusion jamming. If you can imagine Ozric Tentacles with a post bop drummer, that might get you close to the sound on here. This mostly works, except for a couple tracks where things get a bit murky, particularly “Little Wing” and “You Got Me Floatin”. Whether one would have wanted Mass to stay closer to Jimi’s melodies and chord sequences is probably a matter of personal preference. Overall, this is a very good tribute by the Mass gang, and a strong addition to the many Hendrix covers already in existence.

MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS Plays Hendrix

Album · 2017 · Classic Fusion
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kev rowland
Yet again there have been some changes in the Machine Mass camp, and here founder members, guitarist Michel Delville (The Wrong Object; douBt; Alex Maguire Sextet) and drummer Anthony Bianco (douBt; Elton Dean; Dave Liebman) have brought in keyboard player Antoine Guenet (The Wrong Object; Sh.TG.N; Univers Zero), to assist them in their adventures. As a starting point the album is quite simple in its intent, namely that in one day last March the trio recorded some Hendrix songs live in the studio to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ‘Are You Experienced?’. It’s just from there that it gets a little more complex.

I am sure that everyone has their favourite Hendrix songs, and probably also their favourite Hendrix covers. For me there has always been something whimsical and emotive about ‘The Wind Cries Mary”, while I still believe that The Hamsters monumental album from 1990, ‘Electric Hamsterland’, takes some beating. But what we have here is something that Hendrix himself would have probably appreciated, namely three top musicians taking his songs as a starting point and then improvising, twisting and melding, them into something that is barely recognisable yet paying true homage to the craftsman who created them initially. Whenever a guitarist dares to cover a song created by a master then they are putting themselves up to fail, but what Michel has done here brilliantly is not only show that he too is a genius with his instrument, but has filled the interpretations full of jazz intensity and experimentalism, to create something that cannot be directly compared as it is just so very different indeed.

While fans of Jimi will enjoy hearing what Machine Mass have managed to do with classic Hendrix songs, this album is also very much for those who may not be close to the originals. Antoine uses some wonderful Hammond sounds as he Anthony try to keep everything under control while Michel sounds like he is deconstructing his guitar while somehow keeping sounds emanating from it. This album is incredibly impressive on every level, from the musicianship and arrangements through to the way they have ripped this material to pieces and then put it back, lovingly and with honour, into a brand-new format. And that they finish with “The Wind Cries Mary” is the icing on the cake. Superb.

MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS Inti

Album · 2014 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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kev rowland
There has been a change to both the band name and line-up since the Machine Mass Trio’s debut in 2011, as although Michel Delville is still here on guitars and electronics, and fellow douBt colleague Tony Bianco is still providing the drums, they have a new saxophonist/flautist in the shape of legendary Dave Liebman. Known as one of the hardest working saxophonists in jazz, he has released more than a hundred albums as either band leader or co-leader, and has guested on many hundreds more, with credentials that are second to none. Note, there are only three musicians and this album was recorded in a single afternoon, with first takes used for the most part. Both Michel and Tony trigger loops and sounds while they are playing, using computers to assist with the load, and some of the loops are themselves more than 100 bars long. It certainly never seems that there are only three musicians involved, and certainly not that the whole thing was recorded without any overdubs.

That they are all consummate musicians is never in doubt, and the way that they support each other within the framework of a song is quite astounding. The drumming on “In a Silent Way” really takes the song to a totally different level, with Michel and Dave playing quite gently and in a very controlled manner, which is the total opposite of what Tony is delivering from behind the kit. It is this dichotomy of sound, the use of structures and arrangements that should never really fit together that makes this album work as well as it does. This is a fresh landscape, new, exciting and vibrant. There are vocals on just the one song, “The Secret Place”, which are provided by Saba Tewelde, and while it is interesting, I did find this is something of a distraction to the rest of the album as there isn’t the same feeling of adventure and vitality.

But that is just a minor niggle, as overall this is an album that fans of modern jazz really ought to be seeking out. www.moonjune.com



MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS Inti

Album · 2014 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
“Inti” is the second album by avant-garde jazz group Machine Mass and finds them returning to similar devices as their first album, but with a little more aggression, noise and freedom this time around. Michel Delville returns on guitars and electronics, while Tony Bianco continues to fill the drum chair, but woodwinds player Jodi Grognard has moved on to be replaced by long time avant-fusion superstar Dave Liebman. Bringing Dave on is a nice touch, especially considering his broad experience and roots in this kind of 60s/70s influenced psychedelic free fusion. I can remember when I was young, older jazz fans would speak longingly about the sound of Coltrane’s tenor horn. I suppose if that generation had Coltrane, then mine had Wayne Shorter and Liebman, and certainly when Liebman’s beautiful soprano tone makes its first appearance on “Inti“, its hard not to get memories of those heady days when this sort of experimental music first opened the minds of young listeners.

Dave’s finest moment on here happens during the intro to the cover of “In a Silent Way”. “Silent Way” is a very risky piece to take on and most should leave it alone, but during the poignant intro Delville presents a pad of floating tambouras over which Liebman plays a timeless melody on the wood flute before they move on to Zawinul‘s classic tune. It’s a sublime moment which leads to possibly the best cover of this tune I’ve heard. Elsewhere throughout this CD, Dave and the Machine Mass guys present a variety of free form jazz fusion, often swing based in a post bop style, but sometimes in a jagged avant-funk manner as well. The band is very skilled at this kind of imoprov, so your enjoyment will probably depend on how much you appreciate free improvisation in the first place. Generally speaking, fans of modern free jazz have been very pleased with “Inti”. If there is one possible problem that persists here, it’s the occasional use of looped bass and/or keyboard parts. Obviously Machine Mass has no bass player, and the lack of bass on many tunes presents a pleasing open sound to their mix. On the other hand, the tunes that utilize something that sounds like a repeating bass loop as a sort of bass part can sound cluttered.

Fans of modern avant-garde jazz will want to get this, Delville and Bianco are very thoughtful and careful in their approach and Liebman sounds like nothing less than a sage.

MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS As Real as Thinking

Album · 2011 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
kev rowland
Originally MMT were a side-project of douBt, which contains both Tony Bianco (on drums and loops) and Michel Delville (on guitar, bouzouki and live effects – he also plays guitar in The Wrong Object), and here they have joined with Jordi Grognard who provides saxophones, bass clarinet and flute. ‘As Real as Thinking’ was recorded in just one day towards the end of 2010 in a small studio in Belgium, and the band is clear to make the statement that there are no overdubs at all. This album is all about expert musicians feeding off each other, going where the music drives them, which isn’t always as clear to the listener as it is to those who are undertaking the journey.

The closeness with which Michel and Tony interact is just astounding, and Jordi takes little or no part on “Falling Up” which is by the far the longest song on the album as the guys just go for it – providing an intensity and note density which is incredibly powerful. It is pushing through the limits of avant garde into prog and even into areas that are almost outside of music itself – just an incredible experience. It is incredibly difficult to comprehend the relationship these two musicians have with each other as they keep feeding each other with ideas and energy. In other pieces it isn’t unusual for both Michel and Jordi to be changing instruments as well as styles so that it often feels that there are way more then three guys involved, performing all of this totally live. As the label describes it so well, this was a “session of bold, risk-taking improvisation”. A final moving statement from Tony, “This record was recorded as my beloved wife, Mary, was fighting for her life. She has thus passed away and my playing is a tribute to her beautiful soul.” If you want music that is challenging the norm then this is it, but if you want simple clean repeated pop melodies then this probably isn’t for you. www.moonjune.com

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