Secret Machines are a band I discovered back in 2004. I hadn’t heard one note of their album Now Here Is Nowhere, yet I bought the cd sight unseen. For some reason, looking at that album cover with all the instruments painted white, sitting in a white room, I got the feeling there was something special lurking on the shiny disc.
I was right.
That album pretty much blew me away. It was like a futuristic, chromed-out Led Zeppelin with some Tangerine Dream thrown in for good measure. The drums, played by Josh Garza, are giant, booming, and powerful. The brothers Curtis, Brandon on vocals, synths, and bass, and his brother Ben on guitar, created a dream-like world filled with walls of synth, noise, and ethereal clouds of melancholy that you can either zone out to or stop and listen to Brandon’s vocals sing about loneliness, love, and pondering about what it all means. But really, make sure you concentrate on the music.
The band no longer exists as far as I know. Brandon has a new band that I will glady lap up like a kitty to a bowl of warm milk whenever it’s available. Not sure if Josh Garza is involved or not. Ben left after Ten Silver Drops to form School of Seven Bells, a great band in their own right. Sadly, Ben is dealing with cancer at the moment. Here’s to him beating it and getting healthy.
Secret Machines have released three full-length records, Now Here Is Nowhere, Ten Silver Drops, and a self-titled in 2008. All are in my top 20 best records ever, but Ten Silver Drops is the masterpiece. It’s a record about a break-up. Brandon Curtis’ break-up at the time. Break-up records always seem to be the best. The emotions are raw and uncomplicated. There’s no thinking about “what will people think?” It’s just unabashed pain and raw hurt displayed for the world to hear. I can only hope the record was therapeutic for Brandon. There’s not a bad song in the lot. From the epic opener “Alone, Jealous, and Stoned”, to the album closer “1,000 Seconds”, the album moves through the song cycle masterfully. Storytelling, love, loss, hurt, and maybe even peace at the end. It’s an album to sit and savor, revealing itself slowly. Truly, this record is a work of absolute sonic beauty. Hell, Alan Moulder mixed it. Doesn’t get much better than that.
I was lucky enough to snag a vinyl copy in the summer of 2012 from Neat Neat Neat Records in Fort Wayne, Indiana. An extremely clean, first run copy came through his store and I got it two days later. Oh, it sounds f*****g amazing in case you were wondering. You weren’t? Oh, okay.
I’ve talked enough. Here’s the lowdown, Secret Machines are one of the most painfully underrated band of the last ten years. They never got the credit they were due. Brandon Curtis is an amazing songwriter and musician, while his brother and Josh Garza were at the top of their game on here as well. If you’re at all interested, give this album a whirl. Then hit up Now Here Is Nowhere. If you’re still tingling and feeling kind of weird, then check out the self-titled album. The song “The Fire Is Waiting” is one of the most epic tracks I’ve heard…and I just got done listening to 4 hours of 70s Miles Davis today so that’s saying a lot. Just do yourself a favor and listen to this record. It’s simply wonderful.