EP REVIEW: Chris Topher – ‘Green Machine’

Chris Topher is the man. His experimental indie rock and electronic style really captured me on last year’s Introspective, and his latest release continues on a similar, but distinctive, path. With Green Machine, Topher is joined (inspired) by some truly legendary forces in the fields of art, science, and literature. Enjoy.

A Supergroup like no other

Carl Sagan. Jackson Pollock. Sylvia Plath. All visionaries in their respective fields, and all muses and accredited contributors to Chris Topher’s fourth EP, Green Machine. I feel an understanding of the inclusion of these three visionaries is vital to an understanding of Green Machine and its composer. So as I’ve listened to Green Machine, I’ve tried to find the influence of each. Here are my findings.

Carl Sagan, a groundbreaking astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist, led the world further into the unknown void that is space. This vast exploration has mirrored Topher’s music throughout all of his releases, and Green Machine is no different. On pieces like “Dark Matter” and “Creators & Innovators,” synth chords are stretched to cataclysmic lengths, conjuring feelings awe, comparable to witnessing a black hole swallow a red giant. He makes you feel isolated and overwhelmed, similar to feelings Sagan himself thrust upon the public while educating them of our minute place in the universe.

Jackson Pollock, expressionist action painter, burst open the doors to modernism in New York City during the 1950’s. His wild splatter painting techniques shocked and confused the world, but now his paintings sell for millions of dollars and his legacy rivals that of Van Gogh. What Topher draws from Pollock, can be found in “Antigravity” and “Colour of Number 9.” Instruments seem to have a mind of their own, jutting in and out, creating odd time signatures and surprising splashes of color. “Colour of Number 9” in particular is an unpredictable piece. It fuses the sporadicness of Pollock, with the previously mentioned spacious sounds influenced by Sagan. This marks a new addition found on Green Machine. Where Topher’s last release featured similar sounds separated into different tracks, Green Machine combines the two. And just as Jackson Pollock’s seemingly random art concealed brilliant meaning, so does Topher’s.

Sylvia Plath, prolific poet and tragic figure, wrote work that advanced the genre of confessional poetry to new heights. This openness is what she contributes to Topher’s music. Because although we never hear Topher’s voice, we get a clear representation of who he is and what his music conveys. On the opening track “Green Machine,” we hear the buzz of Topher’s instruments being plugged in, followed by a somber piano piece. It’s a fitting introduction to Green Machine. In a way, I think it’s Topher telling us he’s about to lay himself out there for us, show us his mind. And throughout Green Machine, there is that closeness you get with all of Topher’s music that makes you feel like your right their watching him record.

I was lucky enough to receive the only copy of Green Machine pressed to vinyl. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten while writing for The Vinyl Warhol, and will continue to motivate me into the future. When it arrived, it was in a white paper sleeve with “Green Machine” written across the front in green colored pencil. Underneath was written, “At 2:01 a.m. a scientist, a poet, a painter, and a dreamer worked together… to create something beautiful.”

Thanks everyone.