Rating: 7 / Format: CD/LP / Label: DC Recordings
Back when Andy Meecham created his Emperor Machine project in 2004, the idea that it might earn any mainstream success was silly. An excuse to play with two of his favorite vintage synthesizers, the EMS VCS 3 and the Roland System 100, the Emperor Machine was Meecham’s outlet for weirdness, a place where Japanese flute solos came together with songs about robot prostitutes, where campy sci-fi fetishism, motorik drumming, and juddering melodies rocketed out into orbit.
Not what you’d consider a solid foundation for crossover success, but other artists took notice. After the release of the second Emperor Machine album, Vertical Tones and Horizontal Noise, Emperor Machine remixes started popping up, not just for fellow disco weirdos (Michoacan), but on releases like Daft Punk’s Human After All and the Knife’s Marble House. Something about Meecham’s vintage obsessions had taken root, and if the parent material for some of his more recent remixes (Late of the Pier, Higamos Hogamos) is any indication, he might actually have been something of a trailblazer.
Meecham has a chance to make a name for himself with the Emperor Machine, and his latest album, the more controlled Space Beyond the Egg, sounds mindful of that. Though it hews to the strengths of its predecessors, their wide open quality has been replaced here by metronomic tightness. Tracks like ‘Dave Gent’ and ‘The Frontist’ belie an emphasis on editing, and the moves between sections in ‘Silvercape’ and ‘Snatch Shot’ are more forceful than they might have been in the past.
But Space Beyond the Egg is also very consistent, from the bubbling ‘You Clapper’ to the wry ‘Space Age Pop’ to the playful ‘Kananana’. Meecham’s mix of Krautrock, space disco, and retro fetishism might not be unique anymore, but it’s still one of the most potent.