ELLIOT GALVIN — The Influencing Machine (review)

ELLIOT GALVIN — The Influencing Machine album cover Album · 2018 · 21st Century Modern Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
Judging by all the awards he has won, there is no doubt that pianist Elliot Galvin has some serious jazz chops, and that comes through at times on his latest album, “The Influencing Machine”. Elliot also knows how to rock out too, but the music on this album really couldn’t be called jazz per se, nor could it be called rock or fusion either, instead this music exists in a genre all its own and is one of the more creative and interesting albums to come out so far this year. The title for this album comes from a book by Mike Jay about the 18th century philosopher, polymath, double agent and paranoid schizophrenic, James Tilly Matthews, who thought his life was being controlled by a machine. Given the extant to which machines interact with our lives today, Matthews seems like a prophet. Throughout “Influencing Machine” Galvin explores that intersection of machine and human as his acoustic piano often struggles bravely against an onslaught of electronic blips and sampled voices.

There is a lot of variety on here, “Society” sounds like 20th century classical along the lines of Poulenc and Scriabin, while “Red and Yellow” features pounding rock piano backed with a broken stuttering drumbeat that battles with a host of escalating crazy vocal samples. “Planet Ping Pong” uses sounds from 80s video games and toy pianos, while “Bees, Dogs and Flies” sounds like a Keith Emerson type prog rock progression. On any track, when Elliot cuts loose with flurries of jagged notes he can recall Matthew Shipp or Cecil Taylor, and since Galvin is British, I suppose Keith Tippet might be an influence too. I’ve done my best to describe this, but really this is one you will have to listen to for yourself to get a better understanding of what is happening. Music without much precedent is always the hardest music to describe.
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