When Talk Talk and Slint both released their own groundbreaking experimental rock epics in 1991, they single-handedly opened the floodgates for a metric fuck-load of new experimental rock bands to follow in their wake and take that formula in new directions, and thus post-rock was born. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s we saw so many emerging post-rock bands, it was crazy. Sigur Rós, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, upon many others.
Nowadays, the post-rock genre has most commonly seen itself being incorporated into other genres. Great bands like Cult of Luna, Isis and The Ocean Collective started blending post-rock elements with sludge and progressive metal, and then the post-metal subgenre happened. Some of the djent movement’s best acts including Cloudkicker, Animals as Leaders and Pillars in the Sky mix the instrumental prog-metal formula with the pacing and atmosphere of post-rock, and the result is excellent. And now we’ve got… electronic funk post-rock…?
Organik Time Machine is one of those impossible-to-classify bands, hailing from Ashland, Oregon. The five-piece’s work could easily be broadly classified as “electronic rock”, though I feel like that’s doing a disservice to the utterly enigmatic formula the group rolls with on their latest album Until the Morning Sun, which came out last fall. I’m pretty sure the term “je ne sais quoi” was invented solely for this type of music, though that’s the most overused and cliché adjective used in music critique, so let’s just call the band “awesomely really fucking weird”.
I can only assume that Organik Time Machine’s writing process involves each individual member sealing their head inside a half-full vat of boiling chlorine for about twenty minutes before hopping in the studio for some improv. The result is some sort of amalgamation of funk rock, indie pop, post-rock, post-dubstep, glitch, nu-disco, the list goes on. It’s a hell of a lot easier to listen to than it is to try and describe to someone, trust me.
On top of the manic genre fusion, the group’s second album Until the Morning Sun is best characterised by its lengthy songs. The album has 9 tracks, four of which exceed 10 minutes, and the album as a whole clocks in at a whopping hour and 15 minutes, which some might argue is more than enough time for a goddamn double album. It’s admittedly a very alienating release, and one that you’ll either love or loathe, but if you go in with an open mind, you may, like me, very well find one of the most creative endeavours you’ve heard in quite some time.
You know how a lot of music you hear in your everyday life employs a straightforward “verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus” format? Yeah, well Organik Time Machine have decided that they’re too cool for your antiquated normative ways, and every song on Until the Morning Sun takes on a completely bizarre structure, rarely utilising vocals and having no “choruses” to speak of. The songs can start out in one genre and wind up morphing into several others over the course of 10 minutes or less.
One album I’m reminded of is Fuck Buttons’ Slow Focus. Both are hard-to-classify electronic albums with an overlying post-rock feel, both have somewhat long song lengths, and most importantly, both are paced in just about the same way. Songs have a great amount of progression and regression to them with a lot of highs and lows, and it all flows naturally together. There are a lot of moments throughout Until the Morning Sun where you will have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen, and when these songs just randomly bust out their greatest assets, you’ll be left speechless.
I wouldn’t say that Until the Morning Sun is a perfect album, however. The song “Tiberius” does drag on considerably, and could’ve easily been 6 minutes long as opposed to 12 and fared much better. “Frequency Voyage” is the most conventional song on the album, and it just feels like third-rate Chvrches or Phantogram. Sometimes the vocals seem a tad out of place, and certain sections of the album probably would’ve benefitted from just being instrumental.
But these are just nitpicks. At the end of the day, Until the Morning Sun is a unique specimen that’s absolutely worth your time. It has great variety, it’s paced well for the most part, and it’s just a very nice album to sit down and listen to front to back. If you prefer your songs average-length, filled with vocals and more fast-moving and structured, you may not enjoy this album, because it is a very unconventional release.
Until the Morning Sun is available to download for free through Organik Time Machine’s Bandcamp page, and I’d highly recommend you go there and stream what’s by and large the best song on the album “Tulum”, which is a good example of the album at large. If you enjoy it, download the rest of the album, because you’ll love it.
We could definitely use more bands like Organik Time Machine working nowadays. Amidst all of the four-chord pop MOR-fests and by-the-numbers made-for-radio hard rock that dominate our everyday lives, it’s nice to see bands like this experiment with such lofty ambitions. It may not be for everyone, but let’s face it, “everyone” is a pretty shitty demographic to pander to.