Ormonde

Machine

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The kind of vocal dynamic created by Robert Gomez and Anna-Lynne Williams under the Ormonde banner is certainly not without precedent. From Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin and Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra in the '60s to more contemporary duos like Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan or Dean & Britta, the craggy-voiced-guy/honey-toned-gal combination is a well-proven pop tool. But it's not the kind of thing that just works automatically -- you still need just the right pairing of voices and a carefully balanced approach to your material. Texan troubadour Gomez and Seattle songbird Williams put a check next to both of those requirements on Machine, the solo artists' first outing as a duo. To create the music, Gomez and Williams holed up in an adobe house in the homey West Texas desert town of Marfa, writing together in an organic, intimate way. There's something warmly insular about the feel of the album that seems to evoke that process, and simultaneously something sensual and dreamlike. Despite the landlocked area in which these slow-rolling tunes were conceived, Gomez and Williams achieve a strangely aqueous vibe, as languid keyboard lines and gently picked guitar backdrop their soft-sell vocal delivery. It's the kind of summery hypno-pop one could easily get lost in, and Machine should probably bear one of those warning labels you see on pill bottles, urging against use while operating heavy machinery.

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