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Sister Machine Gun [reviews]
[R]evolution |Positron! Records, 1999|

1. Libertad, 2. Carbon Copy, 3. Got To Be, 4. Smash Your Radio!, 5. Transient One, 6. Transient Two, 7. Closer To Me, 8. Wrong, 9. Vibrator, 10. Autoloader, 11. Strange, 12. Bring You Down (Take You Higher)

[R]evolution, also called 5.0., is the fifth Sister Machine Gun studio album. It was published in 1999, and it's a crucial release in the career of Chris Randall, since it is the first SMG album to be published on his own label: Positron Records, with the catalog number POSI003 (the previous two albums in its catalog are his side-project Micronaut and Eco-Hed, the Van Christie House Project).

I don’t know if it's the air of the end of the millennium, or the fact of publishing it independently that may have affected his freedom of expression (his albums were previously published by Wax Trax!/TVT Records)... in fact this album is far better than the previous.

The inspired artistic vein appreciated in the past on songs like "Cocaine Jesus" (from The Torture Technique) finds ample space here. Randall keeps his distance from expected and repetitive industrial rock songs, and makes us sit in a cozy salon velveted by enveloping songs that enchant us with his persuasive voice (which recalls Matt "The The" Johnson's pitches, whereby he shares many musical influences).

This is also the last album that sees the collaboration of Die Warzau (here, in the guise of Abel Garibaldi and Van Christie), since future publications will become almost entirely a solo project, even with the collaboration of Miguel Turanzas. [R]evolution is in effect a watershed between the previous publications, and the large catalog offered in subsequent years, where Randall is sinking their creativity in music history, as if it were the beginning of a second career.

The atmospheres go from Blues & Jazz to Alternative Rock and Funky. In this dimension Randall feels at home, and I think that digging through the notes of these great songs can be found the first source of inspiration of his sound: Jim Morrison. (Try to believe: rewind, only on the CD version, the first track, "Red", of the previous album Burn... you will discover a great cover of "Strange Days" by The Doors.) It isn't exaggerated, Randall carries the Doors from the sunny shores of Venice Beach of the '60s, to the Industrial atmosphere of Chicago of the Wax Trax! days.

It's reductive to analyze of almost every single song. The context that prevails on this album is a unique atmosphere, sexy, charming, even when there are certain songs that deserve a closer look to elaborate on accurately.

The album starts with "Libertad", a remarkable psychedelic intro (4:07 minutes), whose charming atmosphere explodes into "Carbon Copy" and the subsequents "Got To Be" and "Smash Your Radio!" three great Rock'n'Roll songs. And here we are on the top, the highest point reached by Chris Randall with SMG, the beautiful suite "Transient", consisting of "Transient One" and "Two" on this album and then resumed with the remaining parts Three, Four, Five and Six on the Transient 5.2 EP. Sublime; there are no other words to describe it, it's the perfect meeting-point between different musical genres. High class music, to be listened to while sitting in an armchair, sipping a Martini cocktail.
Nate Lepine's sax is valuable in "Closer To Me", a sort of reinterpretation of "Fever" by the divine Peggy Lee (singer and actress, famous in the '40s and '60s), while "Wrong", like "Strange", is distinguished for being one of the most catchy songs of the album.

"Vibrator" thanks to the graceful backing vocals by Shara O'Neil, delights and enchants the listener as if it's the song of a mermaid, and then ends a'la Emerson Lake & Palmer! "Autoloader" sounds very similar to The Chemical Brothers or The Crystal Method techno sonorities, without ever abandoning the soul of the album. The last song "Bring You Down (Take You Higher)" closes with a nice sax solo by Nate Lepine.

It's an exceptional and beautiful album that can satisfy even the most discerning listeners with its perfect blend of psychedelic rock of the '60s & '70s, Blues, Jazz and Industrial Rock. Do yourself a favor and buy this album.

(Marco Gariboldi. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below)
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