Say Psych: Album Review: Maquina – PRATA


Lisbon trio Maquina (Machine) recently released their second LP PRATA on Fuzz Club Records. Having seen their name suddenly appearing everywhere I was keen to check them out, and I was not disappointed.

Drawing from minimal krautrock repetition, pounding industrial techno and EBM, Maquina explore the boundaries of these genres with force, carving out an adrenaline-fuelled sound that’s equally suited to dark, sweaty back rooms and the dance floor.

PRATA follows their 2023 debut album DIRTY TRACKS FOR CLUBBING, and though their sound might have the club in its sights, it is better described as organic dance music that’s equally punk and psychedelic, played by a guitar-drums-bass power trio formation firing on all cylinders, without a synthesiser in sight. Having already amassed a notorious reputation in Portugal for the all-out energy of their live shows (as evidenced in this live video broadcast by Canal180), it’s no mean feat to replicate that in the studio but on PRATA they have managed exactly that – owing to a creative approach largely rooted in improvisation, both on stage and in the studio.

The band described PRATA the band explain “this album was composed spontaneously in the studio throughout the year 2023. It’s music of colour, delving into depths and dimensions that resonate with scale and contrast. Pushing sounds together to make noise and pushing noise together to make sounds. Emphasising textures that evoke feelings and soundscapes rather than relying solely on textual narratives. The music breathes life into auditory canvases, painting sonic panoramas pushing into a world of tactile sensation and immersive experiences.”

Opener ‘body control’ is a rhythmically catchy number that piques curiosity from the first note. The carefully constructed chaos could be considering confusing, for those unable to hear the delicate subtleties which make it so brilliant. Its the type of track that deserves multiple plays at loud volumes. The band explain latest single ‘denial’ is “about an inner turmoil and restless contemplation. The raw, haunting lyrics explore the struggle to find solace within oneself, amidst a sea of conflicting emotions. The plea to ‘shut me down’ echoes the yearning for respite in the face of overwhelming darkness.” It certainly exudes that darkness, yet the repetition gives the impression it is tamed. ‘subversive’ continues in this persistent vocal line that makes it almost hypnotic, when the instruments are added it makes for a heady mix that’s intoxicating and in parts overwhelming – it doesn’t let you draw a breathe. There isn’t really a way to do tracks like this justice in words, you just need to go and listen to and you’ll see what I mean.

‘kontakte’ strikes the ears as the most experimental track on the album, with a distorted noise and vocal interplay to start things off and in true krautrock style the track builds with each rotation. When it kicks in, it really does and I can imagine dancefloors going wild to that drop. ‘desterro’ is the shortest track offered up but that doesn’t mean it packs any less of a punch, if anything its intensity is increased with a relentless energy that captivates, and a beat so fierce it just won’t let up. ‘concentrate’ could be consider your more traditional krautrock sound, with hints of Neu! emanating, but with a modern twist made infamous in these circles by the likes of fellow Portuguese 10 000 Russos.

Maquina have created a freshness in their sound which you can’t imagine ever getting boring. It’s like a slap in the face and a breath of fresh air at the same time. Whatever the problem, Maquina are the antidote.

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