Carptree - Man Made Machine

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

What an amazing year 2005 has been, musically speaking. In this year we have been treated to excellent albums by RPWL, Nemesea, Riverside, Kamelot, Spock's Beard, Kayak, Lana Lane, Presto Ballet and Glass Hammer, to name but a few. And right now I am totally captured by Man Made Machine, the third album by the Swedish band Carptree. Now I picture you thinking: "A Swedish band ? why am I not surprised?" It seems lately Sweden has the highest density in progressive bands.

The problem with so many bands and releases is, many are bound to sound uninspired or similar. That could be similar to contemporaries or similar to the classic bands. To get it over with: yes, also Man Made Machine has its influences in the past. In this case you hear elements of early Genesis / Gabriel and some touches of the Fish-era Marillion, but nothing more than that.

Man Made Machine caught me totally off guard, but after several spins, I love this album intensely. It breathes a slightly dark, brooding atmosphere, and creates a tension that keeps you in your chair, listening intently to what Carptree has to offer. Note that Carptree is not a prog rock only band, but use many styles and elements, that are rooted in progressive rock and the end result is a very progressive album that has its own unique sound.

The two factors that give Carptree the sound they have, is first of all Niclas Flinck, whose characteristic voice has been compared to Fish. Hmm, well, I agree on that to some extent. I still find his voice a bit different, with more warmth and soul, more in the vein of Peter Gabriel. The second factor is Carl Westholm, whose piano play is nothing short of brilliant and give the songs that distinct feel. On the album they have worked with various guest musicians, and those have also contributed greatly to the final sound on the album, but are unfortunately not mentioned on the album crediets, the website or the press promo sheet, so we will just have to enjoy their parts anonymously then.

Although Man Made Machine is presented as ten separate tracks, you should not view the album as a collection of songs, but rather as one suite, that is divided into ten chapters. Each chapter is carefully woven into the next. Thus the band has created this mysterious atmosphere on the album, which I find so appealing. Already the opener, with the cool title "Titans Clash Aggressively To Keep An Even Score," conveys that dark, haunting feeling, which is enhanced by the use of a choir.

Emotion is almost tangible in the music, which, although being very balanced and well composed, seems to come really naturally. Just listen to "The Weakening Sound," with its chilling piano and the superb vocals, and again the excellent use of the choir. This is a highlight on the album. "Tilting The Scales" gives me a bit of a Man 0n Fire meets Porcupine Tree vibe: a modern sound, with vocal eruptions, and yet with a dark, atmospheric touch.

It's a shame the other musicians are for as yet nameless, as they seem to be pretty good. Like the drummer, who shows his craftsmanship on "Burn To Something New." The beat would fit nicely in the jungle, but here, with the fat bass and synths, it is now called neo-prog ? and absolutely the better kind of neo-prog! A totally different sound is found on "The Recipe," a short song, with as leading instrument an (sampled) accordion ? very nice touch.

Man, I could go into so much detail on each song, but I won't ? Man Made Machine really rules my world right now. It is such a great album, with nothing but amazing songs on it and a unique blend of styles and use of instruments. The only right thing you can do now, is buy the album and listen to it yourself. You can't get better music than this. I am only very curious if we ever get to experience this music live ? that would be something. But even if we only would have to settle for the CD ? no problem here: Man Made Machine is guaranteed to satisfy the listener.

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

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

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: September 9th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1150
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]