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

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Alejandro Lomelin - Luz de Intenso Azul – Luz is the instrumental solo project of keyboardist Alejandro Lomelin, of the Mexican band Caja De Pandora. For the most part this is a work of simpler repetitive piano figures and introspective...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues