Mat Zo
Lucid Dreams (The M Machine Remix)

There’s that buzzword “synergy” that pops up all too often on corporate nonsense or virtually any intangible product’s fine print that serves as a crutch to bolster said proposal or product. Shake that connotation. I spent a night with The M Machine, up close and personal, at the Bluebird Theater who truly exemplify the meaning of the word.

As a fan, I first caught wind of the San Francisco-based trio at Global Dance Festival at the one and only Red Rocks a few years back, prior to any major EP or album release. Under the then-moniker “Metropolis,” The M Machine set the foundation for fan-ship with their haunting-yet-driving melodies and pulsating, infectious rhythms. Did I mention they played earlier in the evening on a side stage then?

Flash forward 3 years to March of 2014. They’re headlining their own tour, and representing the OWSLA force in full. The large, DJ-controlled LED “M” from previous shows has been put aside and replaced by a massive, live video projection that zooms in and out of a mechanical M-shaped frame, set perfectly to the live show with transitional flares and bursts. Based on the 1927 film Metropolis, The M Machine’s music and visuals draw in part upon the film’s dystopian narrative, although updated and contrasted with approachable animation and highly danceable soundscapes.

They each overlap shifts of live vocals, mixing, and performing duties, telling the story musically, as a cavalcade of video vignettes unfold behind them: An animated colony escapes their oppressor into the forgiving far reaches of space as a triumphant anthem sounds. An incredible dude opens his mouth, only to have perpetual dudes shoot forth from the mouth of his predecessor like new-school Russian Nesting Dolls. None of the three bat an eye or skip a beat as three Brontosaurian legs plummet downward from the top of the screen behind them. Layer upon layer of visual geometry and audio harmony meld with seamless integration from piece to piece without definite beginning or end. With a backdrop that dwarfs the stage and the three performing in front, The M Machine themselves become live projections, themselves another layer of depth in this sonic trifecta.

The attention to detail, both visually and auditory, adds even further depth to the genre-spanning set. It’s sensory harmony–a blend of mental enlightenment and carnal dance indulgence. The array of cutting synth leads ride perfectly atop calculated waves of bass. And although the ride feels galactic and otherworldly, the sprawl of the set remains grounded in providing the dance party everyone showed up for: their remix of Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” is perfectly placed and keeps the entire venue bouncing, inaugurating any skeptic to the fanbase. Forgive the cheese, but these guys shook the feathers off of the Bluebird.

My recommendation? Pick up some tunes. Read the liner notes. Or dance your face off. Listening is merely half of the experience. The M Machine’s finesse and expertise polish the perfect live show. Amidst a lineup of preset, press-play DJs with overblown budgets, The M Machine is living, breathing proof that electronic craft is king, and evidence that for every perfected piece comes a larger, more impactful story. So about that “synergy” definition? Burn your dictionary and catch these guys in every metropolis possible.

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