From the recording Handbook For The Recently Chaotic
The Dark Machine
Drums – Jeff Asselin
Guitar/vocals – Greg Paul Stone
Pump organ - Rod Fotheringham
I thought I had finished this poem in the 90's. The original version was probably only 50 words. It was another idea from the haul in mum's trophy box. Once I found it I realised that it felt even more relevant today and that with a rewrite could be an interesting mood piece.
If singles were all I released, this sort of song would never get made. Singles are all about making a quick splash. This is a piece that sits on an album to break things up. Refresh your ears and perhaps take you somewhere you hadn't expected. Or you can just skip it if you're not into it.
We recorded the vocals early in the morning for that 'gravel in the voice' sound. My singing voices tends to get better as the day goes on and most of our recording sessions began at 9am so working on The Dark Machine early in the day was a good use of my 'morning voice'.
Jeff's drums are a sample from Been Down So Long with a dark EQ and a bit of delay in places thanks to a Roland Space Echo. The guitar setup I used here is a Parker Nitefly through a vintage Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Boss Giga Delay into a Fender Blues Junior head and Ampeg 2x12 cabinet. This same guitar setup is on Sweet Love and the solo in Shine.
Rod's pump organ part is an improvised piece played on a tiny old manual pump organ. It requires no electricity, just pump the pedals and you get sound. I love this little thing.
Once I had the pump organ setup to record the parts for the other songs, I figured that we'd record some solo organ for use as a transitional moment in the finished album.
I plan many aspects of a recording but I don't plan exact track order and transitions in advance. I find that you just have to wait until you hear what you're working with before making those decisions. I knew we'd use this organ part somewhere on the record but I just didn't know where when we recorded it.
After completing the tracking for The Dark Machine, we realised that it was indeed, a very f****g dark machine! It needed something breathy and organic to lift us up again out of the depths of techno-despair. That's where Rod's pretty little piece of music got its chance to shine. I think of it as a short requiem for the manual world.
THE DARK MACHINE
The dark machine hums softly on...
Its engines moaning in mountains and greasy dawn cities
crawling through steely mornings
like indomitable acne and broken capillaries
inching ever closer to utter pitiless consumption
The dark machine whirs in adamant thought...
Its tendrils reaching in ravenous intent
through hidden webs and rabbit ears,
devouring all in it's path,
lulling us with serene drudgery and panacea
swept up in spiralling arcs of feathery lust
The dark machine breeds madmen...
Swooning with racing thought and horrible intelligence
augmented into culture
terrible and beyond reproach
The dark machine feeds us to ourselves...
Vicious in fluorescent pigeon holes
its feelers swarm out
coiling black dread in scaly knots
sifting down to collect in cancerous cattle
and contradiction of the soul
The dark machine surrounds us...
Inescapable as tinnitus
jeering it's shrill chorus
to the pounding insatiable intensity of everything
grinding forever on the horizon
as sirens wail down oblivion in an instant
The dark machine watches us...
Plastic-clad, tight and shining in showroom gleam
cloistered in fang dripping wait for
the perfect vulnerable moment
wound tense and lean in dead eyed fixation
it strikes in marrow sucking totality
The dark machine has consumed us...
Parted it's charming lips to take all it needs
until we are ground to dust and assimilated
left to graze cosmic pastures caged and alone
in mirrored cellblocks that follow the eye