Braen's Machine

Underground

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AllMusic Review by

Piero Umiliani issued this spacy gem, which he produced in a small edition in 1971 and released on his Liuto label (a label reserved for music that aided in creating movie or television soundtracks, aka "library music"). Given that Underground was their only recording, the Braen's Machine was for years a genuine mystery. Likewise, its two members/composers, Braen and Gisteri, have no other credits. That's because the band name and this record comprised Umiliani and fellow composer Alessandro Alessandroni, was created as an outlet for their creative aspirations (apart from their contractual obligations), which went outside of their more formal work. They not only wrote everything here, but played all the instruments as well. Musically this instrumental set winds through psychedelic rock, jazz, prog, and of course Italian library funk. Opener "Flying," with its squalling, tripped-out organ, clattering, driving drums, low-end theory bassline, and wailing distorted guitar, is almost worth the price of the set by itself, even though it's less than two-and-a-half minutes long. If Can were as interested in funky breaks as they were in space rock, they might have issued a track like "Imphormal." The spacy, hypnotic Rhodes piano on "New Experiences" is illustrated by massive echo chamber effects on the guitar, a rubbery, syncopated bassline, and simmering snares. While "Murder" and "Obstinacy" each borrow pages from Soft Machine's playbook, the former a sense of time-stretching abstraction and the latter a rhythm-first approach, they form the seam where jazz and psych meet and are inventive and compelling. "Fall Out" is a whomping funk number with an infectious bassline, tight guitar vamps, and popping breaks that open out into an exploratory strut. Once more, Schema's Rearward imprint has gone deep into the Italian archive to rescue an essential recording from history's dustbin. All killer, no filler.

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