Michael & The Machines have a longstanding relationship with POW Magazine. They were the first act to take the stage at the first Gathering of The Tribes festival presented by POW in 2015. 2 years later, as POW has just finished presenting Gathering of The Tribes: The Second Renaissance, Michael & The Machines have released their debut album, Mantras & Melodramas– out now on Soundport Records.
Michael & The Machines is the semi-solo project of Michael Padilla, previously of The Soft Bombs and Dora Flood. Though most of Mantras & Melodramas was played and recorded by Michael alone, live shows feature a roving cast of friends/musicians, the “machines” of Michael & The Machines, who bring recreate the unique blend of melodic psychedelia and ethereal new wave to life on stage.
Although Mantras & Melodramas was recorded mostly by one musician, there is a rich, layered sound to the entire album- Padilla manages to create a warmth and a vibrancy within the tracks that is incredibly welcoming. Mantras & Melodramas opens with “Way Beyond The Sun”, dreamy acid pop featuring contagious handclaps and a heavy eastern-influence. From here, the vibes move fluidly into something more akin to post-punk or new romanticism: imagine hazily wandering from early Pink Floyd to the Echo & The Bunnymen. “Wait” is an upbeat pop tune that could’ve come straight out of the Paisley Underground (Side note: during this track my best friend interrupted a conversation we were having to tell me how much she was digging whatever I was listening to). New-wave/post-punk continues to be a prominent influence with “Distractions”, which manages to strike that perfect “happy-sad” blend in a pop song. It’s the album’s catchiest track.
Mantras & Melodramas showcases a wide range of styles and influences all throughout- this is best exemplified in the dichotomy of sound between 2 tracks in the album’s second half: “Weapon” is a heavy psych number with danceable percussion, arena rock style builds and a heavy bassline dominating the track. Immediately following this, however, is “We Need More Lovers In The World”- an uplifting piano ballad in the vein of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”.
Mantras & Melodramas’ closing track, “Late Night (In A Far Away Town)” is yet another departure in sound from anything previously heard on the album. “Late Night” is incredibly sweet and pure, featuring orchestral strings, beautifully melodic layered vocals, and a baroque-pop sensibility that closes the album out with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Mantras & Melodramas is clearly a labor of love by Michael Padilla, and an impressive debut worth giving several listens.
Listen to all of Mantras & Melodramas on Youtube:
Written by Sheena Salazar for POW Magazine