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Machine Translations | Holiday in Spain (Way Over There)
Not the ambient electronica his misleading monicker would suggest, J. Walker's lo-fi excursions are just as likely to feature a wailing guitar solo as they are an occasional whirr or blip or somesuch sound of unfathomable origin. Walker's own description of Machine Translations as 'Alien Space Jazz' or 'Arabic Surf Music' may be a little far-fetched, as there's no disguising the homemade feel of both music and sparse packaging, but there's certainly a twisted core to this antipodean walkabout through sonic pastures new. Busy rhythmic patterns, agitated guitar and a tuneless keyboard sit behind the duel vocals of Walker and the curiously named Kirsty Stegwazi (one of a handful of guest vocalists) on Life's Dangerous a typically intriguing example of his craft - not as quirky as Pip Proud but a sizeable step from the radio-friendly Finns. The wordy Out To Sea shows a more folky approach, beginning in Dylan/Donovan acoustic mode, before building into a string-laden epic that stretches the production values as far as they'll go, and then Walker goes all Arto Lindsay on Brand New Day his voice suddenly adopting a Nikki Sudden lilt. Tellingly it's the most unadorned track that is the most affecting, the crackling lo-fi acoustic gem Eve of Destruction, but there's many a highlight to be found on his space holiday.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000

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