Exposé Online banner

Big Big Train — The Difference Machine
(English Electric Recordings EERCD 003, 2007, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01

The Difference Machine Cover art

Over the years, UK proggers Big Big Train have been migrating their sound from the Genesis-ish fare served up on early records like 1994's Goodbye to the Age of Steam to a more modern approach first explored on 2004's Gathering Speed. The laid back and pastoral vibe the group is keen on makes several appearances here, punctuated by the viola work of Becca King and earthy flute playing of Tony Wright. When the band rocks, as on "Saltwater Falling on Uneven Ground," they sound like a cross between Spock's Beard (no doubt due to the guest appearances by Nick D'Virgilio and Dave Meros), Jadis, and Porcupine Tree. Clearly Gregory Spawton and Andy Poole have read the prog rock tealeaves and have decided to join the current trend toward "emo-prog" trail-blazed by P Tree and taken up by groups like Pineapple Thief. For those looking for melodic and well-executed prog that's not as sunny or upbeat as bands like The Flower Kings I'd recommend giving this one a listen. The musical chairs of guest contributors threatens to disrupt the albums sonic continuity, though whether it's Meros or Marillion's Pete Trewavas playing bass, the material hangs on to its moody and richly textured ambiance. Don't ask me what the concept behind the album is about, even if an emotional ennui conveyed in the three short instrumental bridges seems to be trying to tell a story. Not that it matters. This collection stands on its own and should find favor among mainstream prog fans.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Big Big Train, Nick D'Virgilio (NDV)

Latest news

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cream - Disraeli Gears - Deluxe Edition – What comes to mind when you think of psychedelic blues rock? For me, it’s Cream. They were the most important UK rock band out of the 60s besides the Beatles and the Stones. Eric Clapton, Jack...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues