Review Summary: Crossing over the New Wave and Punk cultural heritage, while dimensioning their musical path by employing many different subgenres. That's what At the Speed of Ten Machines is about.
Voice Box is Chicago based act, making experimental music with some plenty of genres involved. Their sound could be characterized as the hybrid of New Wave and Punk, but taken more as a cultural movement. The energy and craze of punk combined with mentioned New Wave is threaded throughout the album in question.
At the Speed of Ten Machines is their third full-length, an album that keeps their musical pace pretty much unchanged when comparing with previous records. It’s comprised of 12 numbers, kicking off with Whir of the City. The album’s structure employs unusual instruments that are not to be heard in every other songs nowadays, what fits well with the band’s name.
The songs structures per se lead to the conclusion that besides being on the same album, there is absolutely no evident relation between them. Speaking musically. However, there is a huge influence of Pink Floyd, what is (considering the genres involved) an apparent mention. This influence is at the most present in Great Stone Forest and Kama Akeiko through the instrumental work accompanied with interestingly crazy vocals.
Having each of the songs considered as an entity apart of the album’s generalization, the opener Whir of the City reflects what is Voice box about in fullest. However, the vocal segment of the song is something that I find unpleasantly unfitting. Not because the vocals are bad, but simply they do not go with the rest of the track. The song asks for more powerful vocals, what would definitely expand it for another dimension. Drag City starts off comes forth with a nice melody and energy, emphasizing it’s dance-alike feeling. Englishman is one of the best songs on the album. It builds up nicely, bringing to an angered guitar solo and vocals.
Great Stone Forest and Kama Akeiko as mentioned show off the Floyd influential patterns, establishing that way their role as crucial on the album, with Kama Akeiko presenting something unique and different by gathering New Wave and punk references. Gestapo-A-Go-Go is a song with a bit more modern approach dealing with the term “youth”. The Hem of Kali’s Skirt turns the pace towards more alternative sound, deepening with grunge and rounding with Voiceboxish approach. Cheshire Girl comes as energetic as other songs, with a difference of saxophone arrangement making this tune soulful. Atlantic Time is another example of the Voice Box distinctiveness, with vocals that simply have something against my hearing. The closing number, The Missing Peace is a song for everyone, no matter of the genre orientations. It sums the album in a great way, making me think that this album actually has a moment of bliss, but to get there, you need patience.
No matter of few remarks that I complained about (most apparent to vocals), At the Speed of Ten Machines is an album worth hearing if you dig the experimentation in the genres that are inconvenient for the time we live in. The forward-thinking approach of crossing over the genres has become a standard when doing something progressive. The real question is, how to do it?