Carptree - Man Made Machine

Year of Release: 2005
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: SPV 085-48502CD/IOMCD 223
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:34:00

I have this bad habit of ascribing to bands the glorious title of "a better" this or that. Yesterday And Today was "a better" Humble Pie, Racer X was "a better" Judas Priest (Sorry about the Metal references. I just picked those off the top of my head), you know? And you know what I'm going to say next, don't you? Don't you???

The Swedish duo Carptree is a better Marillion, plus Carptree has all these little stylistic elements of Supertramp, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, XTC and even Lazuli going for them. They prefer to produce a floating dream sound, but when that dream crashes to the ground as in "Burn To Something New" or "This Is Home," the weight and the gravitas of this band is increased exponentially like a small meteorite creating a huge crater.

I'd been trying to avoid hearing Carptree for a year or two now, I guess. I heard stuff like "they sound like Genesis in the ?And Then There Were Three days." Or, that "they sound just like Marillion." So I open the mail a couple of days ago and there it was. It's finally happened and I've had no choice.

Well, after a first listen by a neophyte to the band, the neophyte is intrigued and moved; well, just a bit. With each new song, one feels like he or she is setting out on some epic journey to an unknown destination. Carptree is quite adept at creating moods that completely capture the listener and draw them in. Basically a duo of keyboardist Carl Westholm and vocalist Niclas Flinck, Carptree create wonderfully nuanced and brilliantly arranged nuggets of, uhh, Nu-Emo-Progressive-Pop-Metal? Let's just call it pretty good music.

Flinck is an unusually emotive and engaging singer. I think he sounds nothing like Gabriel or Collins, but he shares Gabriel's penchant for sometimes theatrical presentation of the lyrics. Westholm is a fine pianist and keyboardist in general. He produces most of the melodic content of Carptree and his compositions are usually quite dense and involved, though the albums early tunes begin sparse and build layer by layer, unlike some of the disc's later tunes, which start out in grandeur and still continue to build to dizzying heights. There seems to be not a wasted note anywhere on this release, everything in its place in perfect sonic order. The duo is augmented by a number of well chosen sidemen for this project; well chosen because each and every one of them seems to be on just the same wavelength as Flinck and Westholm. Every note is concise and I'd be surprised if everything wasn't scored out by Westholm.

Man Made Machine starts out great, has some surprises as you go along and then it goes out with a bang. I say there's not a bad tune on this disc but I do have some I favor more than others, the first number "Titans Clash Aggressively To Keep An Even Score" and its follow up, the beautiful "Sunshine Waters." Getting a bit more aggressive as things move on, I love the title track and, of course, "Burn To Something New," "In The Centre Of An Empty Space" and the albums finale, its pantheon, its penultimate work, "This Is Home".

I held out for a long time and now that I've given in, I've got to admit how impressed I am with this duo's enormous talent and their sophisticated approach to their song craft. And what's the deal with Sweden anyhow? There seems to be a good prog band hanging out on every street corner with more coming every day.

Whatever they're doing over there, we need to pay attention to it. And apparently, I need to pay more attention to Carptree as well.

Titans Clash Aggressively To Keep An Even Score (5:29) / Sunshine Waters (5:48) / The Weakening Sound (6:21) / Tilting The Scales (6:50) / The Man You Just Became (5:15) / Man Made Machine (6:18) / Burn To Something New (5:58) / In The Centre Of An Empty Space (5:31) / The Recipe (2:31) / This Is Home (8:17)

Niclas Flinck - lead vocals
Carl Westholm - piano, synthesizer, vocoder, theremin, choir arrangements

Guest Musicians:

Ulf Edelonn - all electric and acoustic guitars, bass (6, 8, 10)
Jejo Perkovic - drums
Stefan Fanden - bass (1, 2, 4, 5), baritone guitar (8)
Jan Hellman - bass (7), electric upright bass (3)
Jonas Waldefeldt - tambourine and percussion (1, 2, 4, 7), background vocals (1, 4)
Oivin Tronstad - background vocals (2, 8, 10)
Cia Backman - background vocals (1, 2, 4, 5, 7)
The Trollhattans Chamber Choir - (3)

Carptree (2001)
Superhero (2003)
Man Made Machine (2005)
Insekt (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: May 29th 2006
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1200
Language: english


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