“My Machine” from experimental pop outfit Sis was dropped last week. What opens as an easy-enough melody, with an ear on radio play, gradually becomes a challenging sets of sounds. Across the five-minutes of play expectations are unhinged, and the listener is carried deeper into the lyrical oddness, barbed guitar phrasing, and increasingly angular rhythms.
Lead singer Jenny Gillespie Mason opens the track with a breathy vocal that’s the definition of intimacy itself. This thing is seductive. A sequence of days is described as a daisy chain. Apparently there is a fondness for some kind of drug. The narrator describes herself as invisible ink. A private language between lovers is alluded to. There’s a darkness to the theme, and an abandonment of common sense as something more sensual overtakes. Beneath this lyrical play guitars riff on the prettiest phrases before drums melt into electronic beats – and the machine elements override it all.
The phrase “My machine is learning your machine” is a hypnotic mantra, and before you know it we’re disorientated in the spell. The structure of the track evolves so subtly that you’re not sure how you go this far away from shore. It’s a good metaphor for succumbing to the physical pursuit of love, the loss of mind to passion, or simply the loss of ego through sex.
Is Jenny Gillespie Mason referencing Ryle’s ‘Concept of the Mind’ which views the mind as being distinct from the body? Is she a ghost in the machine – surrendering to the impulses of the flesh? Is her mind being occupied by the machinations of lust. It certainly sounds that way – and you’re an idiot to not follow. It’s good and dark, maybe a little dangerous – but the experiment feels utterly valid. Go with it.
For fans of Sis, “My Machine” builds on the momentum of previous tracks “Moonsail” and the deeply pleasing “My King Plays Bowie”. This is a project that does it’s own thing; trends are consciously avoided, fashion is ignored. There’s a confidence in each track, because they’re driven by elemental truths. For all the electronic treatments, off-kilter effects, and cerebral play – these things are compelled by the heart.
Sis have promised that an album will be released later this year. That’s good news. If the journey we take in the five minutes of “My Machine” can be furthered across a longer sequence, who knows what’s possible.