The Marmalade Of Epicness

Secret Machines Stoned 04

Just a quick one about some epic neo-Texan Krautrock today, Secret Machines Alone, Jealous & Stoned, 12″ which I bought in January 2006 for reasons which can be scientifically measured.  I bought this record  1/3 because I loved the Hipgnosis-style cover (think Presence, but with a silver drop instead of a cubist penis), 1/3 because I really liked their debut album, 1/3 because the title had the word ‘stoned’ in and 4/8 because it was released on one-sided speckled clear vinyl; my hard-earned pay never stood a chance.

Secret Machines Now Here is Nowhere crash landed on planet Earth in 2004 and was like nothing I’d heard before, one of the most fully realized debuts I’d ever heard, a sophisticated melange of indie dynamics, Krautrock, some grandiose dynamics and a dash of garage rock to keep things honest.  Don’t take my word for it, better write-ups are yours for the taking here and here.   So I was really excited when I stumbled across Alone, Jealous & Stoned, like really really excited!

Secret Machines Stoned 01

I remember getting it home and putting it on before even speaking to Mrs 1537, stroking cats, acknowledging ruddy-faced 5 and 6 year-old children and being well … I’m still not totally sure and I have listened to this record a lot this weekend.  I’m divided as to whether I think it shows a stately, slow-burning majesty, or it’s just a bit slow; whether the subdued vocals mirror the soul of, what we scientists call, Homo Unravellous, or whether he just sounds like he couldn’t be arsed; whether I think the excitement is ramped up by the faster section, or whether it sounds like they wanted to get through it so they could get out of the studio for last orders.  I genuinely (fixes you, the reader, with devastating puppy-dog look of sincerity) can’t decide.

It is definitely true that Secret Machines have, consciously or not, gorged themselves on the Marmalade of Epicness.  There is a widescreen, stadium-ready sound to Alone, Jealous & Stoned which was absent from their previous records, the shadows of U2 and Coldplay lurk hereabouts, not necessarily in terms of their sound, although there are echoes, but in the breadth of the ambition shown.  Whilst that’s not an automatic turn off for me and I am happy to be stadium fodder once in a while, it doesn’t often work for me.  If that was their intention it didn’t work for Secret Machines either in this case as they rather lost focus after this single’s parent album, Ten Silver Drops.

Secret Machines Stoned 02

So I’m sorry this is probably the most non-committal review I’ll write, I like this record that is a given, but I really can’t decide how much and how flawed I think it is.

Or isn’t.

322 Down.

P.S – Far better, to my ears unequivocally so, is this track a spacey B-side to the second single (blue vinyl, sigh!) Lightning Blue Eyes.  I love this one.

6 thoughts on “The Marmalade Of Epicness

  1. ‘gorged themselves on the marmalade of epicness’ – I’m not sure that this ‘condition’ should be joked about. Gorging on any fruit-based spread is not only a serious cry for help, but in my mind a desperate, suicidal act. I spent six months in rehab trying to overcome a ‘Robertson addiction’. The delusions of grandeur that accompany these fermented fruit spread binges are truly horrific. I once spent an entire week convinced I was a massive 2-d Golly, freed from my jar to wreak death and destruction upon our racist oppressors. In protest, I would stick myself to any glass surface available and use fruity language to warn unsuspecting tea-timers of the dangers within their Kilner jars. I also plotted acts of holy Jamhad to try and hasten the downfall of the preserves industry.
    Of course, I’m better now (apart from the occasional flashback in Sainsbury’s) and could do without your very funny, creative lines alluding to this madness.

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    1. But seriously folks fruit-spread gorging is a serious business that claims an estimated 1.2 lives globally per annum.

      If you, or any of your family have been affected by the issues raised here tonight, or you feel the need to go and get silver shredded, then please contact Jam-Jah, the Rasta-administered, charity helpline before it is too late.

      Right back at you with ‘your very funny, creative lines alluding to this madness’.

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  2. Yes. That vinyl is gorgeous. And yes, the following LP is a bit slow for the most part. But to my ears it worked, and worked well. But I have significant hearing loss in my right ear, so maybe that’s why.

    Either way, thanks for posting this one. Should I search this single(as well as the other) out? My wife would say no. I say “go with your gut.” and that non-album track is great!

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    1. Yeah the left side of the LP was great, it was obviously the right side that didn’t resonate properly with me.

      As a reformed record buyer …. I say go for it, buy, buy, buy it for me!! Buy hundreds of them, take them all out of their sleeves and roll around on them naked when your children are out of the house.

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