Old Time Machine

Experimental Americana

Review

Performer Mag

Take this record and give it a second listen – it’s not what it seems. Initially, you feel the deadening grass and chill winters of Old Time Machine’s Canada. The multitasking duo is rustic, but they created an album that does not rest on the simplicity of country life’s first impressions.

What begins as Ryan McNally’s Lou Reed vocals sliding around opener “Sun Burns Out” travels into the soul of baritone territory on “Mountain Shack.” Strings waver between the leading, repetitive melodies of a banjo on “Pouring Rain” to the striking, rhythmic sixteenth notes of a mandolin on “Tearing Me Down.”

What appears to be a working man’s soundtrack on “Doin’ All I Can Do” evolves into the storytelling of heartache through novelistic imagery, colored by Kyle Cashen’s tone development – “Through The Window” details the betrayal of even the most saintly women in the album’s first mention of a lost love, even making a turn towards damnation, heightened by its religious, monk-like chanting.

Percussion will either subtly, sparingly chime in or take its giant stomps across compositions. Backing vocals heard on nearly every track change from apparent filler to haunting emphases on daunting themes. The beginning measures of Old Time Machine are not indicative of what this album brings; it isn’t until you’ve reached the end and begin again that you realize how the scenery has changed down the paths you’ve traveled.

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Biography

Old Time Machine unfortunately broke up a few years ago, only bringing the one full length record into the world. But damn what a great record!

Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen sit in a fort made of cardboard boxes, scrap lumber, thrift store bed sheets and chicken-wire. Among the second-hand lamps, rugs, and video game consoles the two have come together for an art exhibition about the dark days of winter. The theme resonates with everyone who experiences the chill of winter in Canada, but is particularly poignant in the band’s birthplace of Whitehorse, Yukon. Old Time Machine started here as the art-show contribution of a bluesman and a bedroom-musician. The unlikely duo works to blend McNally’s studies of finger style traditional blues with Cashen’s experience crafting ethereal soundscapes to create familiar but distinctly original music.

Their work started when Ryan put forward a handful of songs departing from his solo writing. Kyle eagerly filled spaces with reverb-soaked vocals and backbeats. With a mountain of stringed instruments, analog machines and effects, drums, and mics between them, McNally and Cashen began combining traditional sounding folk structures with ghostly harmonies and vintage electronics. The pair were later joined in the studio by producer and engineer Jordy Walker and the group developed a sound that feels like songs playing on a tube radio in a dimly lit bar.

Old Time Machine is known for their unique instrumental setup. Ryan sings and plays a kick drum and high hats while rotating guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. Kyle uses echo, drum machines, a pedal bass, floor tom, ride cymbal, snare, and tambourine. Together the two are a duo of one-man bands facing one another across a sea of percussion, strings, and wood-paneled devices. The band strikes a balance between references to the early days of pop and rock music, dreamy textures, and even elements of hip-hop. From Ryan’s classic croon and Kyle’s lo-fi melody on Sun Burns Out to glitch-beats over mandolin on Tearing Me Down, the pair finds a way to embrace their influences while sounding unmistakably new.

Close Bio

Biography

Old Time Machine unfortunately broke up a few years ago, only bringing the one full length record into the world. But damn what a great record! Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen sit in a fort made of cardboard boxes, scrap lumber, thrift store bed sheets and c...

Read Full Bio

Review

Performer Mag Take this record and give it a second listen – it’s not what it seems. Initially, you feel the deadening grass and chill winters of Old Time Machine’s Canada. The multitasking duo is rustic, but they created an album that does not rest...

Read Full Review

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