Artist: Machines of Loving Grace
Album: Concentration (1993)
In the early to mid 90’s there existed a scene of electronic music; some of it making it to the mainstream like Nine Inch Nails, and others not so much. Machines of Loving Grace was a band that occupied that fine line between mainstream success and the growing underground of industrial artists. I was introduced to the band through the soundtrack to The Crow, which was basically a 90’s alterna-fest. Their greatest achievement, Concentration, is not only an achievement for the band, but for the genre as a whole.
It’s easily to dismiss Concentration as being too “of its time,” and there is some merit to that argument; production wise, the album hasn’t aged all that well. Electronic blips and synths sound dated by today’s standards, but it’s not as cringe worthy as, say, 80’s Depeche Mode. On Concentration there is a complex combination of sounds working to create something unique; funk, soul, and industrial rock all find a comfortable place here. The grooves found on “Limiter” and “Ancestor Cult” are simply too good to be ignored, and opener “Perfect Tan (Bikini Atoll)” is the finest example of all the elements coming together.
A couple of singes had their day on MTV, such as “Butterfly Wings” and the aforementioned “Perfect Tan,” but, as is usually the case, the best stuff couldn’t be found on TV or the radio: “Lilith/Eve” stands as one of my favorite songs of the entire decade. Its funk sampling, jagged guitar, and hushed verses is intoxicating. Like many songs on Concentration, “Lilith/Eve” creates a mood and makes it sound natural.
Concentration deftly combines sounds to transcend the genre label of simple “industrial rock,” and though Machines of Loving Grace would go on to record one more album, 1995’s Gilt, Concentration stands as their crowning achievement that has unfortunately been swept away by time.
Check out the video for “Perfect Tan (Bikini Atoll)” below.