PURPENDICULAR “Human Mechanic”
By The Great Sun Jester
It’s quite a journey to move from being one of the top tribute acts in the world for a Hall of Fame rock band...in this case, DEEP PURPLE...to a respected original band as well, with a growing reputation for your work. Music fans, welcome to PURPENDICULAR. The unit even boasts no less than longtime PURPLE drummer Ian Paice lending his distinctive swing on the kit.
He wouldn’t be here, however, if the songs weren’t. I dare say that immersing themselves in the Gillan/Glover/Morse era of PURPLE’s songwriting history has paid off forr this band by sharpening their already inherent skills. The band’s new 10 song album “Human Mechanic” opens with the track “The Nothing Box” and yes, longtime PURPLE fans will hear some residual Gillianisms in Robby Thomas Walsh’s vocals and Christoph Kogler’s Hammond will definitely prompt some to think of Jon Lord.
However, the band is clearly a different kettle of fish. PURPENDICULAR’s songwriting here and elsewhere depicts a world, often internal, where emotions are perpetually on edge. It’s hard rock, yes, but there are ample vocal melodies and intelligent rather than obvious changes scattered throughout the track. The album’s second track “Ghost” ratchets up the emotional intensity. It’s a declarative song with Walsh bringing everything home with emphatic passion during the track's refrain.
Paice’s rrhythm section partner, Nick Fyffe, has played with PURPLE as a stand-in for longtime bassist Roger Glover. He is locked in with Paice on each of the album’s ten tracks while maintaining an unobtrusive presence in the mix. Herbert Bucher’s guitar on “Ghost” captures the emotional tenor of this piece without ever resorting to useless histrionics. The album is peaking early with this number.
It wasn’t the only peak, however. The album’s title song has muscle and grrit along with a welcome amount of attitude. Walsh really digs into his singing here, serving up an assortment of different voices for listeners to latch onto and his clear attentiveness to the arrangement makes for an even better listen. Bucher’s guitar for the song “TV Stars And Internet Freaks” has a light bluesy tinge that many listeners will love and he supplies inventive fills thrroughout the verses to help further flesh out the song with additional color. It’s another highlight on an album with an assortment of such moments.
“Four Stone Walls”, the album’s penultimate performance, opens as a stomping rocker. The band dissipates that approach somewhat once we reach the verses. Unexpected light and shadow finds its way into the song. Walsh has a street fighter edge to his Irish belter’s voice that oldschool rock fans will enjoy. It’s the album’s de-facto climax as the final track “Passing Through” is almost self-consciously a coda—the much lighter musical strands and abbreviated running time reinforces the notion. It’s an elegant and lovely way to close PURPENDICULAR’s “Human Mechanic”.