The Bright Door
From the late ‘90s Machine Translations were a steady voice in the Australian music industry. Since 2007, though, J Walker has been more involved in making records for other people than in his own project that started as a solo venture and grew into a fully fledged band.
According to Walker it is the big things that got in the way of making The Bright Door like ‘being’ and ‘death’ (not his own obviously). The passing of a close friend affected Walker and derailed the making of the album. Instead he focussed on fixing the house and raising children. When he did get back around to his music, old approaches were discarded and new ways were forged.
The Bright Door is built around pianos and more pianos! Machine Translations have a history of playing with melodies and delivering the rousing chorus or two, yet opener Perfect Crime is intense, layered, frenetic and sinister and not quite what you would expect from Walker. When he returns to the more familiar acoustic guitar and modest vocal charms that he is best known for, You Can’t Give It Back pales in comparison to the rhythmic Broken Arrows with its use of Gamelan instruments.
While life was going on around them, Machine Translations reinvented themselves with a record that is more concerned with rhythm than melody. Just don’t let that stop you from singing along.
_ CHRIS HAVERCROFT