Album Reviews

Getting Lost With Machuca in Space: ‘Explosion of Simpler Times’ EP Review

“The main thing that I want people to take from listening to the album is to not be afraid to let go and dive into experiences. A lot of the time we hold ourselves back because of perceived fears that turn out to be irrational and more imaginary than true. When I write a song it seems that the longer I hold on to the song without recording it, the more attached I get to it because I end up thinking about it more than actually doing something. You can overwhelm yourself thinking about all the possibilities, but as soon as you start doing something, everything seems to fall into place. This album was an experiment in letting go.”

Rafael Machuca is a local musician from San Gabriel, and simply goes under the name as Machuca, for his solo project which was all written, recorded, and performed by Machuca. Primary being a guitar player, Machuca mentions that he started using a drum machine, and recently bought a drum set to practice and produce that organic sound a drum machine is unable to hold at times. Recently releasing his EP Explosion of Simpler Times, Machuca embraces “risk,” and letting go, through experimental space rock, and astronomical ambience.

The opening track, “It’s Fine,” is a very simple song that proves less and more, and features Miguel Lomeli on drums, giving the track a genuine sound. Consisting of mellow “galaxy beats,” and reminiscent structure of sounds to the early 90s and The Flaming Lips, “It’s Fine,” is a personal favorite off the EP. Machuca’s voice is airy and sung effortlessly against the slow tempo of the guitar, and lyrical value is in its own beauty. Going back to what he wants people to get from this album, Machuca expresses it very clearly in letting go within this song: “Sometimes / you let the things you think you won’t, define you / when all they really help you do, is find you.”

Coming Home (The Dirty Blues)” was a song that I didn’t expect to be included in the EP, for its darker blues and western underlying value. Machuca’s voice is lower and doesn’t contain that ambient, soft quality previously heard, but pairs well with the grittiness of the guitar’s distortion. This isn’t a song that I was immediately drawn to since I was on a cloud from “It’s Fine,” and expected the same sound, versus being pushed off my cloud into the desert. Yet, upon second chances, I found myself appreciating small values of the song, but didn’t like the placement of this song on the EP, as it followed the first track.

Machuca returns with his astronomical and soft vocals that echo throughout the distortion of guitars with “Melody (On Paper).” The track is a louder, experimental, space rock song, searching for “melody,” as a personified element and a literal meaning in music. Begins with Machuca describing his room, and the colors that are giving him inspiration and the hope of getting this all down on paper. “…rearrange my head / simplify what I have said / on paper.” A musical reflection of what is going on through Machuca’s head as he is trying to sort through thoughts, ideas, and the continuous hunt as he lulls, “Melody I’m gonna find you.”

Run Away,” once again contains that rhythm and blues value and goes great in sound right after “Coming Home.” Noting that both of these songs contain these gritty, low vocals, and blues value, it is not an accident from first glance at the two titles. Both are about leaving and coming back and may be in relation to each other, not only in sound, but in their story. Wrapping up the EP is the song “Disconnect.” If someone recorded the feeling of absolute blissfulness, this would be the epitome of that feeling. An acoustic, and light and inspiring vocals, followed by  the dreaminess of space, which Machuca holds on to the overall theme of the EP, makes this a perfect song . This is a great track to end the idea, and sound of the EP, and between all the “galaxy beats” on this song, it’s simplicity is just beautiful. Explosions of Simpler Times, is just that; admiring the beauty of the simplicity between the midst of the mind, and getting lost and found in space.

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