John Shima – The Lonely Machine L.P (FireScope Records)

Reviewed By : Matt sever

Forthcoming from FireScope Recordings! John Shima presents his debut LP – The Lonely Machine.

I always like to research the releases I review, and this label comes with an amazing back story. FireScope records appeared in 2016 and was started by Steven Rutter. Their mission statement is to create music that stands the test of time, a quick listen to their back catalogue shows that they are on point on their mission so far. The interesting bit comes in when you delve further, it turns out that the parent label is B12, which is also the name of seminal production duo – Steven Rutter and Mike Golding. B12 was founded in 1990 originally as a vehicle for the pair’s own productions. Their style was influenced by the Detroit genre, but they definitely carved out their own signature sound.

The label released loads of incredible music (each vinyl was hand engraved in the run-out grooves with cryptic clues and messages, themes of futurism and science fiction – I love this) until 1996 when they just disappeared without warning or reason. Their music gained cult like status and illegal poor-quality bootlegs were doing the rounds. In 2005 they returned out of nowhere to a sell out show and the label was resurrected from 2007 to 2009. For the purposes of trying to keep this short and get to John Shimas amazing album, I have kept this as concise as possible. I highly recommend delving into the history of the B12 label and production duo, as well as the incredible music from then and from FireScope.

John Shima is a Sheffield based producer that likes to use old analogue hardware and jam live, his music rides the line between techno and electro and as his soundcloud says he makes deep emotional futuristic techno, with an old skool spacey detroit groove. He has over twenty releases since 2010 on labels such as Red Robot, Anecdote, Distant Worlds and Exalt to name a few. He has worked under the alias Isomorphic and is one half of Fatal Tangent with Arne Weinberg.

The album kicks off with Intel, an emotive, hopeful pad laden electro/techno cut. Beautifully executed. Next, Airwaves feels a bit more mysterious, layers of echoing melodies and atmospheric pads. Empires starts with a four/four kick and pads follow, next layers of percussion, acidic loops build and build. You are fully immersed in an electronic world. He creates hypnotic rhythms that draw you in. This is intelligent, soulful, emotional techno but it has a groove that just gets in your mind. Phase Distortion starts with distorted electronic sounds

breathing in and out, claps, percussion and bass make sense of it, a melodic loop rides the top until the four/four kick comes in where everything gets stripped back. Expert programming, it sounds like a conversation of some alien race that can only communicate through electronic music. Electronic Slaves seems slower a bit more melancholic. An electro cut, the beat on this is amazing, I absolutely love the almost broken way it sounds. I can imagine this electronic slave communicating its plight via this record, with its bleeps, sweeps, builds and drops.

This is one of my fave tunes this year so far. Accepting is a much more melodic affair, ambient like, the sporadic beat not appearing until just over two minutes in. Angelic pads interact with one another high above The Lonely Planet, another impressive bit of programming, a simply divine track. Next up, Migrate, an incredible track, an electro beat but almost dub like, dripping in layers of electronic atmosphere. Distrust follows this broken beat style but with the groove of a four/four, mesmerising. The four/four does kick in halfway through, amazing track. The penultimate track of the album, Linear is a four/four more stripped back affair, an unexpected bassline comes in but just works. Again, Shima works the layers or percussion, melody incredible use of echo or delay creating rhythms, the guy is amazing.

The title track of the album, The Lonely Machine, starts with an electro beat, long drawn out deep pads, acidic stabs create a melody, and the pads tell the story. The way he builds the track then deconstructs it and then kicks back in again is simply amazing. I love this album in two ways, firstly listening through on headphones with the thought of a lonely machine in mind, I feel that we are getting a glimpse into the mind of the machine, maybe this is it trying to make sense of everything, maybe this is a dream it had. I also love this album because it is a collection of seriously high-quality techno and electro. Intelligent, well executed, beautiful, hypnotic, groove laden and I will definitely play all of these out at some point. I have to mention it again – Electronic Slaves is just amazing, what a track.

The Lonely Machine is an incredible release. John Shima continues to create machine music for your soul, intelligent techno with groove, an artist that should be on everyone’s ‘instantly buy anything he does’ list. And FireScope- what a label, what a history. A bastion of quality from real life techno legends.