Feb 13, 2023
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Lindsay Nustra Karnats
Next month, cult-beloved indie rock outfit Secret Machines are back with their newest full-length record, The Moth, The Lizard, and the Secret Machines. Though it was originally intended as the band’s fourth record, the album was scrapped during the mixing stage in 2010, marking the beginning of an extended quiet period for the band. After returning with 2020’s Awake in the Brain Chamber the band have spent hte last few years looking to their back catalog, reissuing their self-titled record and their Dreaming of Dreaming EP, along with an EP of new tracks entitled Day 21.
The band began sharing singles from The Moth, The Lizard, and the Secret Machines last year, beginning with lead single “There’s No Starting Over” and following with “You Want It Worse.” Today, they’re back with another new track, “The Finalizer,” premiering with Under the Radar.
“The Finalizer” is another piece of the band’s space-faring psychedelia, laden with hypnotic guitar riffs and primal drumming. Initially, the distorted tones, sludgey tempo, and jagged textures all lend the track an enveloping sinister aura, ensnaring the listener in an alluring narcotic lull. Yet, in the track’s latter half it takes on a strident marching pace, shifting into a more propulsive mode as the band fades into a buzzing textural haze. The vocals from singer Brandon Curtis act as the song’s persistent throughline, with his droning melodies blinking through the collage of cosmic psychedelic effects, shading it in cold metallic hues.
Brandon Curtis says of the new track and forthcoming LP:
“‘The Finalizer’ is one of my favorite tracks on the record. It started from the same riff as the fourth track on the album, ‘Even Out the Overflow,’ and even though it went in a completely different direction, I feel like it retains some of the same feeling – in a sort of inverse relationship. It’s the last song on the album, and the last song we will preview before we release the whole album. So, I guess there is some finality to it. Endings often come with the promise of new beginnings. But there is always the chance that every goodbye could be the last. Thanks for listening 🙂
“Finally getting to share these songs after so many incarnations, after all this time, after so much has happened, has been a wonderful experience. Listening through has been like connecting to a memory that had begun to recede. I think the improvisational nature of the process and the rawness of the performances allow all this feeling and emotion to bubble up through the wash of sounds and pulses. We are extremely proud of the work that went into making this album and are excited to present this track as another preview of the album.”
Check out the song below. You can also read Curtis’ Q&A on the track and record below. The Moth, The Lizard, and the Secret Machines is out everywhere on March 24th.
Secret Machines · The Finalizer
You noted that this new single “The Finalizer” and the record’s fourth track “Even Out the Overflow” share the same riffs, despite their ultimately different composition. Can you describe the general thread that holds the tracks on this record together, if there is one?
The thread that holds these tracks together is literally the melody of the main line of the songs. The riff was something that we as a band we’re playing over and over – sort of getting lost in the repetition and feeling the sort of hypnotic quality that comes from meditating on a piece of music as a band. Well, as we were taking the groove around the block we kept finding that the melody wanted to live in a slow and creeping neighborhood as well as a bouncy and lively neighborhood. So, we decided to develop the songs individually. I’m happy that we did!
You also said that all of these songs have been through a number of different incarnations – from start to finish, how did you all get these tracks to a place you were satisfied with? How did things change and morph throughout that troubleshooting process?
Oh man, I don’t know if I have ever felt satisfied! There is always some new way of molding and shaping things that it really takes a deadline or something external to find a stopping point. For these tracks I think it was just as arbitrary as Josh [Garza] and I getting together for a mixing session with the idea that we are going to come away with ‘finished’ material. The process is something that I really love. I mean, I love exploring different ways to process sound to create different environments, maybe even different feelings. These tracks have been through various incarnations, individually and collectively. However, I feel like the place that we ended up was close to where we started all those years ago.
In general, how would you describe this record in relation to past Secret Machines material? How do singles like “The Finalizer” introduce the record’s basic ethos?
I feel like the spirit of this album is exemplified in this track. I mean there is a sort of deconstructed rhythmic element, a feeling of building slowly but sort of never arriving, a bunch of complicated emotions conveyed through a detached and stoic vocal delivery. These sorts of feelings were the through line, for me, for this album. I think it represents where we were as a band then and I think it is a part of who we are as a band to this day.