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Machineri

Put that in your Pipe

by Roger Young / Images by Daniela Sarinski / 06.10.2011

Upstairs at the Kimberly it’s dimly and sparsely lit and the few bar staff are struggling to deal with the crowd. There are no frills here tonight, just Machineri playing their debut album straight through, on a straining sound system. There is something dirty and spiritual about the way they play the blues. Sannie Fox stands on stage, stock still, eying the crowd slyly, like she knows the answer to some greater riddle, her guitar at a right angle to her body. The only parts of her that are moving are her mouth and her fingers rhythmically working through the cyclical blues repetitions. Andre, Machineri’s guitarist stands off the small makeshift Kimberly stage and cycles his notes almost to himself, hidden by his long hair scruffiness. Daniel bashes his drums, sitting like a slave driver keeping the oars in check. And while they three seem to perform apart, the hard driving blues that comes forth from them is one unified yet somehow languid assault.

Machineri

There are not many adjectives you can use to describe Machineri; they’re tight and they’re strong and they perform like it’s no big deal. They play an evolved blues technically but roughly. They’re the kind of band you hope never make it so that you can always find them in some shitty club providing the backdrop to a knife fight. They’re the kind of band that should be playing wherever there are knife fights to be had. Sannie Fox has a powerful voice and she knows it. You can hear they’ve listened to a lot of Black Keys, Led Zeppelin and North African guitar based blues. Their single Ladder Operator exhibits just how Sannie uses her guitar to drive the whole band with a well oiled effectiveness, Andre’s solo’s are hard and true and brief, the essence of necessary. Their no frills blues is as enviable as it is excluding.

There is a mesmerizing to Machineri that almost sucks you in, but the middle of the set lags, and something disengages. They’re playing blues progressions that don’t seem to be progressing anywhere; a couple of the songs sound exactly the same, Sannie intones lyrics that are hardly discernable from those that came before, all the while with this look in her eye that says “You know what, I can do what I fucking want.” It doesn’t help that the sound system can’t handle her range and drives the top notes into our inner ears like a hot poker. Tonally, they’re standing as still as Sannie is. There is no rest in the set, songs practically merge one into the next, Sannie singing top range, high power with a force and stamina that’s overwhelming, and when she backs off, it’s never long enough for my ears to catch their breath. Eventually, it goes from being a display of blues skill to a marathon of endurance.

It’s mostly saved by “Goodness”, that starts as a harmonica fueled rolling romp, moves into short guitar chunks, then Sannie lets her voice go, like Karen Dalton on jet fuel, into a duet with the guitar switching from chain saw riffs to blues pull backs. In this moment, Machineri are strange and exciting, raw and honest, tearing at something. Then the encore, starting like the soundtrack to Paris Texas, pulls back into that same one chord hard blues chug. I walk out into the road, my ears ringing but not in satisfaction. Something was missing from Machineri, like maybe a knife fight.

Machineri

Machineri

Machineri

Machineri

*All images © Daniela Sarinski.

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RESPONSES (29)
  1. Anonymous says:

    The only truth about this band is in paragraph 3, word 9.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Great write up Roger. I find the same with this band, all smoke and no fire. Their songs go nowhere. The recent video they did was testament to this, a crap song that keeps feeling like it should go into something, never does, and I keep wondering who her stylist was because she made Sannie look like a crack ho with roadkill stuck to the side of her head.

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  3. Andy says:

    I saw Sannie Fox playing blues guitar and singing on a lawn on a wine farm last Sunday… and was impressed. She’s definitely come along way since they launched, but she hardly moves. So it’s kind of a tapestry, a background blues sound, more than songs

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  4. just me. says:

    the photo’s are shit and taken during sound check??!! wtf? these guys deserve a hell lot more. sort your shit out.

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  5. Mechanic says:

    I really think this band just needs a couple of fine-tunings to go from something interesting to something hair-raising. It’s got shredding guitar, a crashing drummer, and a smoking hot devilwoman in front – this shit should almost sell all by itself, if its not working then you’re missing some basic ingredient.

    I agree that their live performances often leave me feeling a little flat, where I just wish I could have felt more engaged in the thing – as an audience member, I’d like to feel like they’re playing for and responding to me. If Sannie went a bit batshit crazy onstage, then so might we. Instead I sometimes feel like they’d have played exactly the same set if the room were empty.
    As for the bassist thing – well, yeah, I like the idea of not having one, but ideas are sometimes stronger when they remain conceptual.
    I’ll still check out the album – if its crisp’n’killer (I’m sure it will be), I’ll give their live shows another chance…

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  6. Mechanic says:

    Oh, and….really, poor effort on the photos.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    What are the requirements for being a Mahala Photographer? An iPhone? You’re making Steve roll in his grave, and he’s still trying to settle.
    ‘Dont worry Roger, I got this covered, I’ll get you some pics! In fact, I’ll go early to sound check to make sure they look really good!’

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  8. Roger Young says:

    As far as I know, pictures were supplied through the band’s PR people. I might be wrong. I go there to write, not to manage photographers.

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  9. ask says:

    “Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again
    And don’t speak too soon
    For the wheel’s still in spin
    And there’s no tellin’ who
    That it’s namin’
    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin” Bobby D. .

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  10. ask says:

    And don’t criticize
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin’
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’. More Bobby D.

    That’s all I have to add

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  11. Anonymous says:

    And as an Editor?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    And sannie weighs in ^

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  13. Roger Young says:

    Bob Dylan, and his qualifiers.

    Don’t quote what you haven’t grasped fully, it’s not a call to not criticise, it’s call to not criticise “what you don’t understand.”

    The stance that I didn’t “get” or understand it just because you don’t agree with me is exactly what killed the hippies.

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  14. cave says:

    I think R0dger, the bob head over there means you cant play or sing or write a song.
    so stop criticizing others. In the chain of those who do, those who teach and those who write about , journalists definitely have an ear only for how their social appetite on a particular night might manifest, and not much love for matter it took to make you natter.

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  15. Roger Young says:

    Well Cave, you obviously can’t write, so you are by your own logic, therefore, not allowed to criticise my writing. Oh dear. Stalemate.

    It’s not only musicians who listen to music. Or buy it. Think about that for one teeny second why don’t you.

    (And how do you know that I can’t “play or sing or write a song”?)

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  16. cave says:

    send me a link to your composition.

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  17. Roger Young says:

    How do I know you have the qualifications to criticise any music I might have written? I don’t even know who you are? I’ll send the details as soon as you prove you’re qualified.

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  18. cave says:

    Its like nursery school , I’m having a go mate. yup I can’t write.
    Never intended to nor do I intend to. I just think your a litttle harsh on start-up artists. I just think as an outsider, SA journalists try to be all London about the way they review, This girl and Her band are not the White Stripes, they need a ladder up before they get all broken down.

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  19. blue says:

    Not sure what’s going on up there. Seems like a lame ass conversation about the state of journalism. nonetheless I have seen this band, and truth is they’re ok. It’s blues which is going nowhere. Same old Am pentatonic, same groove. All the blues musicians here seem to sing about New Orleans and Memphis and the Crossroads…but they live in a European village too small for its residents to know that there is at least one Dan Patlansky, Sannie Fox and Natasha Meister in every town in the world.

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  20. Roger Young says:

    I don’t qualify Sannie as a start up artist, nor as a “girl”. She’s a musician who’s been around a long time. A musician who I have a lot of respect for, enough to tell her the truth about her performance that night.

    It’s a gig review not a fucking obituary.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    They keep going on about not having a bass player, like it’s some sort of radical out there thing. White Stripes did it with effective ease ages ago, but then Jack White is amazingly talented and could entertain and make brilliant music with a whisk, an acorn and a feather.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    i like the fact that for a change the photos aren’t art-fart. new journalism allows for photos to be crap – what people are looking for is good and honest writing. if you wanna look at photos hit the google images tab.
    the photos in this story tell us exactly how lame this band is, don’t they?
    and if they are doing the whole black keys thing, then for shame.

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  23. Marshall says:

    I thought the piece was better than most of what MAHALA produces. At least it provided an opinion within a context. Agree or not, the piece makes an argument and attempts to justify it. As for whether or not a critic should criticise… performance to the public puts the piece in the public domain… and anyone can criticise or have an opinion on it. Whether or not the argument holds needs to be challenged, not the position of the arguer. Philosophy 101, FFS.

    Jesus i can’t believe I’m defending Mahala on this. next comment I’ll revert to standard hate, sorry Rog.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    mahala readers also need to stop discussing mundane and obvious facts. read the article and go on with your daily activities; you dont have to nitpick every god damn article written in the world. this fucking website is the only thing in sa that comes anyhwhere close to america’s subjective underground press of the 60’s and the 70’s – jesus, be thankful something like this exists.
    and lets face the facts: the band machineri is unoriginal, whoever hails them as anything either than a band jumping on the neo-blues bandwagon is a pr whore. if you guys dont like subjectivity in journalism, go read news 24 and reuters feeds. when will this country’s brains start ticking properly?!

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  25. Sue de Nimm says:

    when people start using their real names on comments boards

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  26. Anonymous says:

    yeah, whatver makes you sleep better. i dont have to give you or anyone else my name because it wouldnt change anything. what do you need to know my name for anyway, wanna buy me a present, sue de nimm? ja, good name btw, real good, makes me wanna follow you home…

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  27. roger says:

    Ever had a day at work that didn’t go according to plan? Ever written a piece that you could have done better with, Roger? Fuck you. I love the way you can sit on the sidelines and actually write a review about one gig. When Machineri is on fire, they are on fire. Sannie is one of the most talented individuals musically in this country. Ask a musician, not some fat fuck boozy dick who has to write stabbing articles to get a rise. It is actually pathetic.

    In fact, reviewing music is the most redundant form of journalism ever. I hate The White Stripes, you like ’em. Get what I am saying?

    Once again, speak to musicians about how they view Machineri and Sannie Fox. Not some dick who writes for fuck all money thus leaving the only props his own ego.

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  28. Roger Young says:

    @roger

    I actually get paid quite well.

    Anyway. > http://www.mahala.co.za/music/narcoleptic-blues/

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  29. lee says:

    i have to agree with what roger says is saying,ask any musician about machineri,even ask roger young,and they will tell!!to anonymous..the fact that you feel so strongly about dissing this band,is really sad..and probably quite flattering to machineri…calling them shit and unoriginal..just shows your ignorance…its funny that storm thorgerson(the man behind darkside of the moon ,pink floyd and led zeppelin artwork) came to watch machineri live,and was blown away and eventually did there album artwork…and i can assure you,this man is 70 and knows his music..read about it if you please,and he would probably laugh at your pathetic jealousy….im a proffesional classical and jazz musician,and i can tell machineri have something very special..and if you let go of your ego and really listen,you will hear how true and beautiful their music is,they are worldclass and no wonder brian lucey of black keys fame askt if he could master their album…machineri have already sighned international distribution deals and doesnt come as much of a surprise,…so sit back,relax…their fans love them …and they gonna be here for a long time!!

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