Govt Machine Boy

Greetings & Salutations!

What an odd little beast this song is, and what a long strange trip it has taken in getting here.

Next week, we’ll be re-releasing our 2003 EP One Left Turn. It has been out of print for several years, and unlike our more recent releases, has never been available via digital distribution. We figured that as long as we were bringing it back to the world, we might as well polish up the original recording with a new remastering job, and cast about for some bonus material while we were at it.

“Govt Machine Boy” was one of two tracks that Matt played for me when we first sat down in January 2004 to start writing songs for what would eventually become the Clarity album. (The other track was an instrumental version of “Amazed,” which ended up in the “Trepanation” suite on Green & Grey, but that’s another story for another blog.) Entitled “Technobabble” at the time, it had the same rhythm track and synth layers, but arranged in a slightly different configuration. I don’t think Matt seriously considered it as a song for the band, more just an experiment that showed off his production skills. But I was immediately smitten with the track, and began dreaming up ways that we could put it to use — a scenario that has, incidentally, repeated several itself many times in the years since.

We used it as the intro music for a run of shows in 2004-5, accompanied by a video created by our friend Fozz. The arrangement had been changed to include the slow build-up to the drum & bass entrance, which remains today, and the first round of spoken word snippets were added. Once the track’s rhythm section kicked in, the live band would take over and play a stripped-down version of the arrangement until we could segue into the opening song proper. It’s something we might try again in the coming year, especially with our current line-up of players giving us additional musical ammo to more faithfully re-create the track’s multiple layers.

The guitars, flute, and saxophone were added in 2007-08, while the song was being considered for Green & Grey. It had been in the hopper for Clarity too, but was just too left-field to fit in with either album’s overall vibe. We were on the fence about including the saxophone at first, fearing that it would make the song’s Alan Parsons influence a too overbearing, but decided that John Flanders‘s performance was too good to leave on the cutting room floor.

By this time we were far enough into the digital side of things to release it as a standalone single, but the last few pieces of recording and arrangement — the breakdown towards the end, the inclusion of another handful of spoken bits — took a little while longer to fall into place. Now that it’s finally complete and ready for prime time, as it were, it seems obvious that this re-release of One Left Turn is a perfect opportunity to give it a home. Those songs are already such an unlikely hodgepodge of styles, with jangly pop sitting alongside crushing metal like they’ve been set up on a blind date, that adding a techo-ish instrumental at the end creates just the right straw to stir the drink. In my opinion, anyway.