Thursday, July 4, 2024

In The Company of Machines By Jesse James Allen


In The Company of Machines


Jesse James Allen

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I had been looking forward to reviewing this album from the time I heard of its arrival, thankfully that day is here, and now I can plunge my senses into the deep on another Jesse James Allen album called In The Company of Machines, this album would enthral me, take me back to the past, and revitalise my energies, all thanks to the marvellous music that is contained within this most artistic release.

My first insight into the world of electronic music came mainly at the hands of two artists in the 1970s, Vangelis and Tomita, and as time rolled on Jean-Michel Jarre would soon join that illustrious party, it was an era of great excitement and artistry, here on this very album Jesse seems to touch the hem of those artists and many others in this brilliant new creation.

The opening foray is the wonderful title track, and of course called In The Company of Machines. The pace and syncopation here is sublime and takes me back to the 1990’s when a synthesiser heaven could be found in the land of one of the best EM artists around in David Wright, this flowing manifestation of electronic charm pulsates and drives us on further.

This album though is more than just an electronic purist haven; it is one of the most complex and fascinating releases of instrumental music I have heard for years, with the almost progressive essences of tracks like Chaberier, that gratefully reminded me of the days of Wakeman and Yes, whilst Gears of Time took me on a whole new voyage of plenty, with its tribal drumming, ethereal vocals and sweeping synths, drifting me into the harbour of early new age music like Medwyn Goodall’s, then pulling away fast into once again a more progressive rock styled manifestation.

From the last power piece we move towards the early party of the century and a track entitled The Celestial, a piece with a sensual percussive nuance mixed with a lush eastern vibration, similar to the one that artists like Karsh Kale and Harvey Summers were producing back in the great days of the Buddha Bar collection, and within what used to be called the chill out genre, the keyboards and symbiotic percussion here are simply delightful.

Now we arrive at the midway section of the album and a track that I would think has the most artistic title on the release called Through the Valley of Ice and Fire. Allen’s keyboards are at their most expressive within this offering and paint a textured colour of tone, the added percussion and vocalisations made me think that a track like this would suit a show like, The Witcher or Game of Thrones perfectly.

The mysterious and magical sounds of Orion are up next, the slow and steady progression can be felt here and the energies of expectancy grew carefully, Allen’s keyboards then took control of the helm and another sublime moment of electronic mastery evolved into its own power, this all-encompassing experience laid us in the grateful arms of the next piece called Dawnbreaker, a track with a sumptuous 1970’s feel, and one which added a crisp level of modulation to gift us a Jarre filled memory of rhythmic bliss.

As we float gently down the stream of sonic awareness we come across a total gem of a composition, one that features Flamenco guitarist Don Soledad, this unusual yet very effective combination breeds a very interesting juxtaposition of brilliance, as both the keyboards of Allen and the guitar of Soledad gift us a perfect symbiotic performance to be enjoyed, on the arrangement Nightfall in Formentera.

The penultimate offering from the album is the reflective Inside Into Within, its tones create a sense of new age styled opus that took me back into the 1990’s with artists like David Arkenstone and Phil Thornton, the emotive synths manufactured a lush landscape, while the keyboards of Allen at times gave us a hint of a Celtic energy written all very artistically into the weave of this superb composition.

Sadly we have arrived at the concluding piece of the release and this parting gift is called Fata Morgana, this idyllic new age styled piano driven composition ends our journey through what in my view has been one of the most insightful albums I have had the pleasure to listen to for decades, this final masterpiece picks itself up and leads us into a dramatic progressive styled conclusion, a very inspiring end to a very classy album indeed.

In The Company of Machines by Jesse James Allen has without doubt been one of the most inspiring musical journeys I have had for a long while, I could have hit repeat with ease many times over. This is truly an exceptional album, with touching references to a glorious past, and a tip of the hat to the many genres that this album is a part of. Superb musicianship and a very thoughtful and intelligent release can be found here, if you want to hear what really great music sounds like, then you need to look no further than In The Company of Machines by Jesse James Allen.

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