CD Review: Marco Machera “One Time, Somewhere”

Marco Machera
“One Time, Somewhere”
Innsbruck Records
Tracks: 9
Running Time: 34 minutes

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Imagine an album that has elements of King Crimson, Tom Petty, Nirvana, Mike Oldfield, and – just for good measure – some Ennio Morricone. Got all that? Now imagine blending all of it together and somehow having it work. Italian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Marco Manchea’s stunning debut disc, “One Time, Somewhere”, accomplishes this difficult feat and, while his influences can easily be discerned, he firmly makes the music his own and delivers one of the most impressive debut albums in recent memory.

Marco lulls the listener into “One Time, Somewhere” with the opening track, “Hello”. He starts simple and slowly adds layers to the song – including an array of percussive bleeps and blips courtesy of current King Crimson drummer, Pat Mastelotto – and then allows the song to blossom into a lush sonic landscape. It’s a wonderful song – but Machera’s got a wide array of styles to explore within the eight tracks that follow the lead-off cut. In fact, by the album’s final three cuts (which are presented as a multi-part instrumental), he’s taken us on a journey that stops off in so many starkly different lands that each warrants a stamp in a musical passport. The only disappointment is that after 34 minutes, the CD spins to a stop.

Machera’s managed to assemble some impressive players to help him out in this freshman effort including Mastelotto, Rob Fetters (The Bears), Francesco Zampai and multi-media savant Mark Kostabi. Despite this, none of the songs feel like they hinge on one musician’s performance as it all balances perfectly track after track after track – something that is aided by the album’s pristine production. It’s a great-sounding record that amply allows the wide range of atmospheric dynamics to ring throughout, be it in brash bassier moments or quiet ones in which Marco plays delicate instruments like a toy piano (I did mention Mike Oldfield, right?).

Given the rich density of “One Time, Somewhere”, it would be interesting to hear how its roster of songs would play live. There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the arrangements Marco comes up with will work well within the context of a live performance. He’s a consummate musician with such a sharp sense of overall composition and minute detail that the material will likely shine Every Time, Everywhere.

Track Listing:
1. Hello
2. Stories Left Untold
3. Days of Summertime
4. Bright Lights Big Cities
5. El Muerto!
6. Down Below
7. Gotzen-Dammerung
8. Hire Her
9. Troubled Childhood