Besides being a long-time aficionado of progressive rock and even more; progressive metal, one of my other main musical preferences is powerful guitar driven music. Either jazz rock, fusion or a modern instrumental band like Intervals go hand in hand with a now more traditional guitarists like Joe Satriani, I love this kind of music. This time The Machinery Of The Heavens was handed to me, the fourth album of The John Irvine Band, lead by guitarist, bass player and keyboarder John Irvine. The only other member is his long-time musical partner, drummer Rich Kass. On this fourth album, John chose to record as a duo, without the guest appearances of previous albums. Being a fan of his previous albums I was really looking forward to the 2020 release The Machinery Of The Heavens.
Although John Irvine is mostly labelled as a fusion player, his love for progressive rock always shines through. Like myself, John is a fan of the band Rush, so listen to the intriguing progressive rock opener Dark Skies and find out where he has put the Rush references. I love this fine opener. With the following ...And How Much For The Robot? jazz rock and fusion take over, a heavy base, referring to Planet X with fine chords and melodies, reminding of Scott Henderson, make this a serious fusion powerhouse. Where in the basics Dangerous Notes is a very fusion focussed track, the progressive rock influences really shine through, also the pronounced bass parts bring this one to life. Both guitar and drums are really strong on this mighty tune. Lush chords and smooth melodies are the key words for Take It From The Edge. A nice flow and dedicated groove make this also one interesting composition. Gadzooks is a very short explosive track in between two more melodic ones. More progressive than jazz? Perhaps (Across) Lunar Fields does suit my statement, making this track the perfect symbiosis between my two dearly beloved musical genres. The title Blast From The Past does say it all, solid good old fashion melodies, dedicated guitar work that easily could have been recorded a decade or two ago. Really great to incorporate such a tune into the album. The album's final composition also is the title track, The Machinery Of The Heavens and to be fair, this song is not comparable to the others. A much more mechanic, more static sound with emphasis in the tittle I guess. The progressive rock elements rule during this one, elements of Pink Floyd pass by, alongside soundscape style elements. Much more experimental than the previous tracks on the album, perhaps not the song you expected, but definitely a worthy end of the album.
With John Irvine's 2020 release The Machinery Of The Heavens, the progressive rock influences have definitely taken over from the fusion guitars from the previous albums, all the credits to John to pursue his own musical adventure. For me this symbiosis turns out to be another highlight in John's musical career. I have to admit, the final track needed some more spins to convince me, but in the end, I was very pleased with this track, exploring new territories to incorporate in his complex music. Job well done!
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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