Stone Machine Electric Remind Us all What Demos are for on Awash in Feedback

They’re about as rudimentary as you get, and much of what you need to know about Arlington, Texas, doom duo (I keep trying to coin the term “doomuo,” but it doesn’t seem to be catching on, fun as it is to say out loud) Stone Machine Electric you can see on the package of their debut self-release, Awash in Feedback. It’s right there on the back of the cardboard sleeve, in big capital letters: “THIS IS A DEMO.”

And indeed it is. A live demo, to boot, and one that will appeal to anyone who recalls tape-trading days of practice room recordings capturing the rawest elements of a band’s sound. Stone Machine Electric offer a half-hour set comprised of five songs, feeling their way through well-trod creative territory and offering bright spots of individuality throughout. Those familiar with the boom in Texas doom – bands like Orthodox Fuzz, Wo Fat and Kin of Ettins being good company to keep – won’t be surprised by much of what guitarist/vocalist Dub and drummer/vocalist Kitchens have to offer on cuts like “Mushroom Cloud” and “Nameless,” grooves inspired by the likes of C.O.C. and Earthride/Spirit Caravan being put to appropriate use, but Stone Machine Electric delve into territory more their own on the extended instrumental centerpiece “Echoes of Garnath,” doing well to add a jammed feel to the heavy-footed riffing.

It might have sounded too rough or thrown off the mix on Awash in Feedback, but I do miss the low end to these songs that a bassist might provide. That said, as the chemistry between Dub and Kitchens on “Echoes of Garnath” demonstrates, it’s not going to be just any player who can fit into that position, and it’s not something I’m going to hold against Stone Machine Electric at this point. The purpose of Awash in Feedback is clearly to get their name and their songs out there – maybe even to people who might join the band as additional members – and to figure out where they want to be sonically. The start-stop riff of “Walking Among the Blind” comes across well enough to give a general idea of Dub’s approach and the general kinds of structures Stone Machine Electric are interested in working with for future releases (barring any radical change in tactic), and for right now, that’s asking plenty of Awash in Feedback.

As the set progresses – you’ll forgive me if I don’t know the Fort Worth venue where it was recorded – Kitchens and Dub get more locked in, so that when their vocals line up two-plus minutes into the fourth track, “Nameless,” it feels like a welcome arrival at Stone Machine Electric’s present apex. Perhaps the best compliment to be paid Awash in Feedback, at this hopefully early juncture in the band’s tenure, is that the material sounds worthy of further exploration and development, and I would say that’s definitely true. I try to imagine what dynamics between the guitars and drums might come out of a studio version of the jagged psychedelia of closer “Echo,” and it seems the potential is there to craft something both at home in its genre and unique in its scene. Stone Machine Electric may just be getting going, but from what Awash in Feedback has to say about their progress so far, they’re pointed in the right direction.

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One Response to “Stone Machine Electric Remind Us all What Demos are for on Awash in Feedback

  1. Katie Boyd says:

    The venue was Hot Licks Barbecue Saloon, and the engineer was Russell Hollar. :-)

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