Play. A strange voice: “I love the accordion. It is a beautiful instrument.”
Aaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhh. Stop the horrid accordion. Please I beg of you, no more. Please sto – oh you have. And now there are some lovely guitars. And a lush bass line. And suddenly the accordion is the beautiful instrument you promised us Mr Green (Machine).
Thus starts First Sighting, the debut LP from the Martin Green Machine. Repetition, the album’s opener, is a shocking piece of experimental accordion dance folk which should never grace people’s ears. But like a pirate who has to endure a hostile life traversing the high seas in search of Treasure Island, the listener must persevere for there are treasures to be found.
The Parisian feel of 29A immediately follows the initial horror and acts like milk of magnesia after a dodgy curry. An almost dirge like beginning comes with Quayle Paint, but once the gently picked guitar comes out to play, and the soft Scottish tones of Inge Thompson, reminiscent of fellow north of the border singer Isobel Campbell, you float along the stream of this real gem of a track.
Both Horse and Give Up the Body inject more life and tempo, the latter always in danger of turning some funky accordion into the cacophony of Repetition but just staying within the boundary of cool. There is something catchy about If You Can’t Use A Map, which has a rousing intro full of strong horns before slipping into the somewhat repetitive chorus “If you can’t use a map then you don’t know where you are/If you don’t know where you are you can’t use a map”.
But the spoken word interjections are brilliant, the best line being “Is it good? Is it shit? I don’t know, I don’t know.” (print does it no justice) In many ways it sums up the album, which ends in stark contrast with the opening track, with a reading of the Disappearing Platelayer, read by creator Moff Skellington , accompanied by soft pianos, those delicate picked guitar notes and the odd glockenspiel for twee measure.
The annunciation of the story are more melodic than many a lyric of sung verse, and one feels like you should be tucked into bed while listening to this final soiree into the world of the Martin Green Machine as they read you a bedtime story and gently bid you goodnight and sweet dreams, just no accordion nightmares please.
Words: Peter Truman