Ruined Machines – Celestial Bodies Series Pts 1- 3: “The Sun EP” – 82%, “Mercury EP” – 84%, and “Venus EP” – 79%

The Sun cover art

Ruined Machines is the brainchild of Joseph Kenyon, a one-man band from New Jersey. “The Sun” is the first in “Celestial Bodies”, a monthly series in which Kenyon is collaborating with artist Michel Brodka to create a Solar System inspired music series with strict deadlines. I’m not quite sure how to approach reviewing this series so I’ve decided that I will review each release independently once every 3 months and give a final score for the series as a whole when it is complete.

The series kicks off with “The Sun” , a 3-track 15 minute experience that starts off with “Heat,” a rough in your face track that opens with harsh Djent inspired riffs. The space theme is almost immediately recognizable through the strange electronic sounds incorporated into the song. The EP takes a much friendlier turn with “The Ballad of Sunshine” , which opens with Synthesizers straight out of the 80’s which for whatever reason reminded me of the Matthew Broderick movie “War Games.” Following a quick little guitar ditty and some ambiance the song takes a more straightforward post-rock approach. Spiraling guitar works its way to the front of a well layered and textured mix, a hint of Explosions in the Sky influence ever so present. It amazes me that this is still the same EP that started off with riffs that would make any Meshuggah fan bang their head. The EP takes a final dramatic twist in pacing with “Waves of Fire,” which sees guitar tones full of life rise through a sea of drone like a phoenix would rise from the ashes. My only complaint here is that this track could continue for another 6 minutes and have my full attention. But in an instant the track powers down as the short EP comes to an end.

Mercury cover art

Another three track, 14 minute effort by Ruined Machines, “Mercury” is the second EP in the series. The album begins with the series title track “Celestial Bodies,” an ambient journey that does an outstanding job capturing a space-like atmosphere. But just like the previous EP, Kenyon really loves taking twists and turns and “Heavy Bombardment / Mariner 10” is a return to post-metal inspired riffs with deep bass making its presence felt as well. I just love the way the guitar crescendos it’s way into and out of the mix at will in this track. The heavier riffs don’t quite do it for me but the more vibrant tones are lush and just downright fun and enjoyable, definitely the brightest star amongst the series (see what I did there?!). I’m not sure I’m totally sold on the use of an electronic beat here instead of traditional drums, but it works. “Ode to the Possible Past” tempts us with more clean guitar while space ambiance looms amidst the background. This track is really a masterpiece both musically and technically as the sound stage is fantastic and the mids and highs are perfectly equalized. Overall you can really tell the series is beginning to take on a life of its own.

Venus cover art
Chapter 3 in the series is the “Venus” EP which has a lone 10-minute track “In Velvet Flight, In Satin Skies.” This track begins with what is a far cry from the rest of the series. The track crawls along in snail’s pace ambiance taking a drone approach for nearly 3 minutes before the drums finally breathe life to the track. Forceful warm Bass rumbles through the halfway point of the track upping the intensity while a guitar gets off to a slow start, sputtering in and out of the channels of my headphones. The most interesting thing about this track is that it really starts taking on one identity only to stop on the drop of a dime, return to ambiance for about 15 seconds and then take on a completely different identity. The final couple of minutes of the track finish strong with a prog-rock (think Porcupine Tree) ending.  I’d like to think of this track as more of an adventure then a song. The storytelling continues to get better in the series and with these three EP’s only representing 25% of the journey, I’m excited to hear the next 9 parts! – 7/25/12

Pay what you want on bandcamp: http://ruinedmachines.bandcamp.com/

Artwork from the Series available here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/michalbrodka