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Secret Machines | Awake in the Brain Chamber

The space-rock shoegazers share their first new studio release in a dozen years.

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It’s OK if you don’t remember Secret Machines.

After all, the Texas-born, New York-based indie-rockers only made two albums before splitting — and the latter of those came out 12 long years ago. But now, after an aborted album, a lengthy hiatus and the tragic death of one former bandmate, they’re back — and picking up right where they left off, if Awake in the Brain Chamber is an indication. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Curtis (who spent much of the past decade as Interpol’s touring keyboardist) and drummer Josh Garza return to form on the eight-song disc, launching a series of glammy space-rock shoegazers that set driving Kruatrock beats beneath a universe of glistening synthesizers, supernova guitars and darkly rich vocals. Reportedly, some of the tunes include songwriting input from former member (and Brandon’s brother) Benjamin Curtis, who died from lymphoma in 2013, several years after leaving the band. So in addition to being a long-overdue comeback, Brain Chamber also serves as a fond farewell of sorts. That gives you two good reasons to keep them in mind.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In a world turned upside down, The Secret Machines are back, and looking for light in the chaos. Awake In the Brain Chamber, the band’s fourth LP and first recorded output in more than 10 years, is the sound of things falling apart, with the hope of dawn touching the horizon. If there is a crack in everything, Benjamin Curtis and Josh Garza are more interested in the light coming in. Curtis’ darkly prophetic lyrics speak of isolation and fear, while Garza’s frenetic, pounding drum beats sound of the four horsemen. But just when things look their worst, the Machines’ beautifully ethereal space-rock takes us away to a different, safe destination: A place with angels, where dreaming is alright, and life blooms from a new disaster. One of the most acclaimed rock bands of the 2000s, The Secret Machines helped define the sound of the era, alongside contemporaries Interpol, Spiritualized, and TV on the Radio. Laden with sprawling arrangements occasionally pushing the nine-minute mark, the sound of the band has always been grandiose — alternately labeled as prog, Curtis and Garza have always been most comfortable with the term “space rock.” “Brandon’s songs and my drumming meld into the sonic landscape that is Secret Machines,” says Garza from his home in Los Angeles. “I think people will be able to hear that immediately on this album.”