The Steffan van Soest Smoke Machine is running at full capacity with the first release under this moniker. An eclectic collection, it’s almost impossible to nail down the influence behind the sound as a whole, let alone each song.
The grunting guitars on opening track HOT! feel very much like Darcy Clay meeting Josh Homme, while ‘80s synth sounds scatter themselves throughout the entire record creating a sense of nostalgia, but without the cringe of bad ‘80s synthesiser music. Bad By Design exemplifies what the record is all about – lo-fi production, heavily fuzzed guitars and vocals distorted almost beyond recognition create a very brooding atmosphere and give the impression that the music was made very much for the creator.
However, indulgent is not a word one could use to describe the journey ‘Hot Boxin’’ takes the listener on. Engineer Mike Boulden has done a great job of creating space for everything to shine through as it needs, as shown on This Is That Day, with distortion all over the track but plenty of clarity for the lead and bass lines to keep the Machine ticking over.
This is the kind of record that could bring together any number of different types of music fans, with its appeal potentially spanning pop, rock, alternative, dance and even industrial electronica. My one gripe is not with the record but the TSVSSM itself – play some live shows and let your Machine take over the world!