When I first saw the band name Silicon Soldiers and their hardcore sounding first record’s name Ich Bin Die Maschine, which translates to “I am the Machine” for you non-German speaking types, I was expecting some pretty heavy and sludgy rock chords coupled with guttural and indeterminate vocals being spewed out. Basically I was expecting something like Rammstein but ended up hearing a poppy-er version of Einstürzende Neubauten.
But Silicon Soldiers is not a German hardcore doom band or anything like that. They are: guitarist/vocalist Nick Cameron, bassist/backing vocalist Alan Hardison and drummer/ keyboardist Maddie Crow. The three met and formed at the University of North Carolina in Asheville where they are all currently students. Their music is a blend of indie-rock with the occasional hints of experimental pop.
Ich Bin Die Maschine opens with the bouncy lo-fi pop of “By Your Side” with a hop and skip drum track and a keyboard line that sounds like it was ripped from an Atari game soundtrack. Behind this are some jazzy guitar riffs and some pretty tasty bass licks. Next up “Mourning Dove” ditches the eerie keys for some more mellotron-inspired ones. Here the guitars wah-wah out giving the feel of some ‘60 garage rock without the fuzz. It’s worth mentioning too that Nick Cameron’s vocals are distinct to say the least, but distinct in a way that sounds like he couldn’t be singing to any other type of music.
Later, on the jazzy piano-guitar wanking “Walking Away” we get to hear how Cameron’s vocals play off of those of Crow’s and Hardison’s. The effect is almost a bit mind-altering as is the song in the way that it seems to start off as one thing and changes form into something completely different. They play a pretty straightforward soft and intricate guitar piece which makes up “Each Other’s Eyes” and then up the jazz guitar riff ante on the jangly “Monochrome.” Here the backing vocals, though minimal, help to give the song something it may not have had without them. They play with this jangly guitar math-rock motif on the rest of the album but not so much as on the seven-plus-minute “The Machine” which definitely gives serious nod’s to Pink Floyd.
Ich Bin Die Maschine is not a record for everyone. I can imagine a lot of people putting this on and not really knowing how to listen to it. It’s definitely not a drive around in the car record. Rather it’s a record that should be sat down and listened to, and I mean actually listened to, not just having it on as some sort of background noise. For anyone really willing to do this the rewards are very plentiful.
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