Six Finger Satellite
The Machine Cuisine Companion Cassette
During the salad days of indie-mania in 1994, the man-machines of Six Finger Satellite were busy clocking in and out of a studio in Chicago, working with Steve Albini on an album that would later become Machine Cuisine. In a creative purple patch, Satellite found themselves with a surfeit of material, most of which would never be able to be crammed onto an album. The band decided on a course of action that made sense in those days of DIY generosity: slap the song fragments onto a cassette and make them available to the hardest of the core for a song. Sixteen years later and as with all other lost aural treasures, The Machine Cuisine Companion Cassette gets the reissue treatment, in this case as a digital download, and naturally in its native cassette format. So what does it sound like? Seventeen tracks worth of strident sonic fragments, reminding the listener of most of the Eno/Bowie instrumentals on Low, the man/machine rhythms of Robert Rental and the Normal, and a healthy dose of Wire’s clockwork chaos. Pure death disco! Swiss watch-accurate beats caked in distortion and grit, with zonked out/paranoid vocals calling the spots.
It’s valuable both as a portrait of a band at work, displaying the very guts of their creative process, and as a historical artifact that shows Six Finger Satellite already grooving on a frequency that bands like LCD Soundsystem, Cut Copy, and Hot Chip would pick up on nearly a decade later. And, of course, exhibit A of how a band can lower the barriers between themselves and their audience, while still keeping the essential mystique and persona intact.
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