Machine Translations

Love On The Vine cover

Spunk is pleased to announce the release of a new Machine Translations EP entitled Love On The Vine. The EP features 4 new songs including a stomping sing-a-long title track with indian percussion and chinese orchestra, a collaboration with internationally acclaimed Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurdsson (Bjork, Sigur Ros), 2 remixes by Melbourne sound artists Qua and Old Des Peres, and a quasi-live reworking of the song “No Hip” from last year's highly succesful Happy album. This EP is the first fruit of J. Walker’s time in Melbourne. The songs and sonic adventures herein signal a new willingness to open up MT's music to outside influences, and to expand on the studio techniques that people responded to on the last full-length release Happy.

Since Happy hit the shelves Machine Translations have a had a great year. The record was the only independent release to be included in Triple J’s Oz music month as feature album. The videos for “She Wears a Mask” and “Amnesia” have been much lauded and have had stacks of RAGE and Channel V airplay. At the end of the year “She Wears A Mask” made it into the Triple J Hottest 100, and more recently was added to ABC’s nationwide regional playlist. The band have completed several tour of major cities, including support slots for bands such as Spoon, Badly Drawn Boy, Teenage Fanclub and more.

Below a track-by-track commentary from J Walker himself:

1. Love On The Vine
This one's pretty much me, though i roped in Karen Tua and Clare Bowditch for backing vocals. It's something strange dressed up as a pop song: a singalong chorus, lovingly presented on a crisp bed of indian percussion and accoustic guitars. Everyone asks 'who's Lucy?'. A mutant chinese orchestra intervenes. This song may or may not involve cunnilingus, either way it's about sex and death.

2. Baby Architect
This song is co-written and produced with Icelandic sonic genius Valgeir Sigurdsson (who must get very sick of people putting Bjork and Sigur Rios in brackets after his name). We had a day in a small studio together and this is the result. He made the rumbling percussive sounds using shrink wrap off a blank CD, don't ask me how. He also played the beautifully lyrical guitar line that holds the whole thing together. At first I thought it should be an instrumental but Valgeir talked me into singing on it. The words remind me of a Leonard Cohen song where he describes a baby as having 'one eye filled with blueprints'....Not really about sex or death, this one's about the birth of a new form of human being, and everything inanimate coming to life.

3. Chinese Bride No. 9
This could loosely be described as a remix too, though the original song never saw the light of day. This is one of those chain processes i have been exploring - you write and record a whole song, loop the most interesting 4 bars, cut that up and make a whole new song from that, again loop the most interesting 4 bars and cut that up again. My tranny radio got a good workout on this track and i think i also read some poetry that ended up backwards at triple speed. Very arty, but i like the way it turned out all claustrophobic and cyclical....The original song was about sex and death.

4. Simple Shores - A Fictitious rework by Qua
This is a remix of a song off the 'Happy' album by one of my favourite electronic musicians - he has such a melodic, organic approach to computer generated sound. The only thing from the original song he used is the vocal. For me, the less a remix sounds like it's parent the better it generally is, and Qua scores a perfect 10 here - related but very original. I was also amazed how well it fitted into the general feel of the stuff I was working on.....Nothing to do with sex or death here. The words are about loss and having to say goodbye to the past.

5. No Thrill At The Rodeo
This is basically an anti-remix, it's a semi-live revisiting of what was originally a very cut-and-paste song 'No Hip' on the last record. I've been enjoying playing with the live band so much this year and really wanted to start getting them involved in the recordings (something i've had trouble with in the past), so this is Kjirsten and Iain (drums and bass) live and the rest of us overdubbing, but using only 1st or 2nd takes to try and get at what we sound like on stage. The lyrics are completely new but reflect the original No Hip which was sung by my computer....About death and the accompanying absence of sex and, indeed, all physical sensation.

6. A Most Peculiar Place - Old Des Peres Remix
I'd seen a few of Old Des's live shows at clubs in the city and loved the way he pushed his sounds really hard, but with a live player's feel (he's also an excellent trombone player). The first time i heard this i thought the speakers had blown on my stereo, but it was Old Des tying the sound up in knots and throwing it against a wall. This song is about death.

7. Parismatic
The name of this song comes from a dream i had - it had something to do with a particular way of using the word 'the'. Wierd huh? This piece is really a combination of about 5 different unrelated recordings i had floating around. It's more collage than anything else, though there seems to be an inner logic to it....And i quote 'We unwittingly describe in musical terms the peace and bliss that exists between conjoined planets in the outer solar system.'