Review: Paper Machine Music – ‘Glimpse’

There’s something nice about an album that doesn’t try too hard. An album which doesn’t jump up and down to grab your attention but just drifts by effortlessly, comfortable with what it has to offer you. That’s what we have in front of us today in the form of Glimpse, the debut record by Paper Machine Music, the latest musical project from Rob McKinlay.

It’s an album about finding solace and satisfaction within yourself, about ignoring the frantic pace of the outside world and focusing on the rhythm of your own life. That overarching theme is evident on opener ’Buffalo 66’, which feels unburdened by excess and rich with character.

The fact that ‘Love to Document’ – the second track on the album – clocks in at 7 minutes 19 seconds exemplifies just how laid back and unrushed Glimpse is. This was where I noticed that there is a wonderful warmth to Rob’s voice, similar to that of Editors frontman Tom Smith which soothes and welcomes the listener. The track has a lovely outro which ebbs and flows perfectly, with the kind of layered guitars we are used to hearing from Idlewild.

Perhaps the one track where Paper Machine Music breaks from the formula is ‘The Iron Heel’ which features Paul Tierney on vocals. What sets it apart from the other songs is its abrasive quality, closer in sound to Mogwai. It’s well positioned halfway through the record just to perk you up.

As Serious As Your Face’ is an instrumental number, punctuated by snippets of recorded conversation which reflect that central theme of Glimpse – finding comfort in your own skin, as well as highlighting the struggle musicians can face when the raw emotion of a song can become numb having played it night after night. It’s a simple track, but one that forms the core of the album’s message.

One of my personal highlights on this record is ‘Incubation’, which slowly unfolds for three minutes before soaring gloriously. There’s traces of Spiritualized in the vocal performance, something you can also pick up on ‘The Second Part’ and ‘Slacker’s Eye View’.

Glimpse ends with ‘The Space Between Two Thoughts’, a more ambient electronic number reminiscent of recent Mogwai albums. It’s languid and almost playful in the way it drifts from section to section. Again, there is no rush to get the focal point of the song, every aspect of the musical journey is given time to breathe and fully express itself. It’s a wonderful microcosm of the entire album.

Rarely do I listen to an album which is so consistent in sound from start to finish. Perhaps that’s because artists worry their album might become monotonous, but that’s not the case with Glimpse. The relaxed nature of the songs helps them to blend and almost morph into one warm, soothing fifty minute song. It’s an enjoyable listen which I suspect is going to become more and more rewarding with every repeat.

Rating: 7/10
Sounds Like… Curling up with a book on an autumn afternoon.

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