07 June 2021 (released)
27 July 2021
Progressive music has come a long way in the last few decades. There was a period of heavy reliance on synthesizers in the 80s for its genre-pushing style. Now it seems to have come full circle with an embrace of the two genres that initially informed it: jazz and classical. The modern purveyors have also thrown in a strong metal component to create prog metal, the current edge of cutting edge prog rock. There's the influence of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, as well as Wagner and Holst. And then there's Béla Bartók. The eccentric Hungarian composer whose idiosyncratic style was described as "eerie dissonances providing a backdrop to sounds of nature and lonely melodies" gave progressive musicians a new North Star to shoot for. Wildly imaginative sonic textures and convention shattering methods. Bartók became one of the most intriguing composers of the twentieth century.
London duo Immortal Machinery has paid tribute to this great composer by rearranging his works for a more modern orchestra. The B3 Hammond organ figures prominently amid a jazz rhythm section and evocative piano and violin. The result is a mesmerizing listen that would certainly prove a perfect score to life's odder moments as well as some experiences beyond the pale. What began as a rock outfit has become a vehicle to explore scintillating projects like this one which was spawned during the 2020 lockdowns.
Instantly challenging. Unsettling, sharp stabs act as a fanfare to introduce 'Allegro Molto' with tritone chords and hard syncopation. The organ lays down a nightmarish foundation while the violin gyrates erratically. Nimble bass and drums creep and crawl. All the makings of modern prog metal are contained here, Immortal Machinery just had the foresight to execute it with a modern sonic palette. Beautiful, anarchic chaos.
'Intermezzo' cools things down with a slinky descending jazz vibe. You get the sense that you've snuck in somewhere you do not belong. 'Melody in the Mist' takes on a more playful tone. A meandering piano overlays the ever-present organ. The bass sways with a silky glissando. 'Clash and Clang' as the name suggests, invites more chaos to the fray. Broken piano lines are intercut by jarring onslaughts. There is space that breeds enormous tension. The final track 'Notturno' or “night” weaves a mysterious after midnight texture. The bass walking a lightly inebriated meander while the piano chimes in sporadically like lights flickering in the distance.
Bartok – ReOrganized is a fascinating reinterpretation of this master of mood. The mix of modern flavour with the potential for wildness from classic instrumentation makes this record a spellbinding journey into the uncertainty of the night. A brilliant idea of resurrection birthed from this global collective downtime.