Paul Miro - 'Sinombré Vol III: Freedom Machine' Album Review
1. Nothing Left Here Pt V
3. Freedom Machine
5. Money Tree
6. Life Support
7. The Con Spirra Sea
8. A Quiet Belief In Angels
11. Waiting For The Barbarians
13. All That Remains
14. Nothing Left Here Pt VI
Bleak times abound us, but this doesn’t mean that we need to mire ourselves in misery. In fact the current political, ecological and sociological climate should be giving artist something to draw from, to inspire and an challenge themselves creatively.
Paul Miro has been releasing his Sinombré albums now since 2016 and there could be no better time for the third volume to emerge. The planned quartet of albums are loosely tied together and a dystopian future that has seen humanity and the world fall apart. The first album “All Hope Is Gone” introduced us to this future (a one that seems to be fast approaching right now) and “Broken Angel” built on this strong foundation. “Freedom Machine” sees Paul and the world of Sinombré looking towards the horizon and seeing, for the first real time, a glimpse of warmth and hope (which leaves us with a finale of “Mortal Babies” that’s still to be released at the time of writing).
As with its predecessors, the album opens and closes with a song titled ‘Nothing Left Here’ with parts V and VI bookending either side of the album. Part synopsis, the musical themes from the previous versions are again revisited while still managing to sound fresh and different to the previous incarnations. It’s a slow paced burner of a song, allowing Paul’s trademarked husky tones plenty of vocal space to run, even when backed by the luscious harmonies that lift the song up.
‘Dereliction’ is more unusual, and catches the listener off guard. It’s more electronic and darker than what you might expect, especially when the robotic narrator starts. It’s at this point where previous listeners realise that “Freedom Machine” calls back to “All Hope Is Gone” where the opening song was also followed by another narrator (Terrorvision’s Tony Wright on the first album) easing us into the world we are about to immerse ourselves into. Miro warns us “some things go bad and they don’t get better” before the title track ‘Freedom Machine’ provides us with a sharp slap to the face. It’s frantic and anthemic and is probably the closest he’s come to sounding like Apes, Pigs & Spacemen since the band ended. The song’s protagonist reminds us that our freedom is not what we might think it is, almost as if it’s just an illusion created to help keep us in our place. The drums drive the song along at a pace that leaves us gasping for breath.
’Crazytown‘ drops the pace back down and introduces a familiar sounding song that fits alongside anything from the previous two albums. The spaghetti Western influenced acoustic guitar hangs itself from a widescreen space in the song that builds into an anthemic chorus. The stuttering funk of ‘Money Tree’ struts along next, exclaiming ”no place for you and me in the shade of the money tree” reminds us that there’s a societal pecking order in place. Money talks kids, and don’t forget it.
Part of the Sinombré set up means short instrumentals that break up the flow of the album. ‘Life Support’ is based around a beautiful piano part that repeats itself while building various atmospheric soundscapes around it. The notes hang expectantly, giving you an impression of tranquility and peace before the Brechtian sea shanty of ‘The Con Spirra Sea’ slips beside you. Its leering narrator drunkingly invites us to join their crew of tin foil hatted lunatics. ’A Quiet Belief In Angels’ opens with a fast paced picked acoustic guitar while Miro sings softly over the top of it, creating a sense of secrecy and urgency as it slowly builds itself, layer by layer, before giving us the pay off the song needs around two thirds of the way though. Lyrically again, the song offers us hope in adversity, a reminder of the decency of the human spirit.
A throbbing ‘Bitterfruit’ drifts over us, pulsing away warmly around us before the exploding chant of ‘Ready’ grabs us. Its glam swagger is helped by a fizzing, fuzzy guitar lead over the chorus Just as you’re settling into its swing then we are on to ‘Waiting For The Barbarians’. “I’ve been to hell and back again, I ain’t keeping score” we’re warned at its start. It’s more a reminder that the more shit changes the more it stays the same, that we can all probably count the times we’ve been stuck in some crap situation hoping to get out.
‘Disconnect’ reminds us “it’s more of a road than a journey”, that everything is part of a greater whole. No matter how bad things might be right here in this moment it’s not permanently like this. ”Keep on no mater what they say and grow stronger each new tomorrow and every day”. It’s another example of hope before we reach the finale. ‘All That Remains’ is all woozy keyboards, “We all create our fictions to help us deal with the pain” we are reminded before “we fall into the black again”. There’s an Eastern European hint to the instrumentation before it dissolves into the grand piano of ‘Nothing Left Here Pt VI’. It’s joined by pizzicato strings as Miro is left to croon along like the house band on the Titanic, still playing as the ship sinks beneath the freezing waters to it’s fate.
It feels like a sudden end to the album, and it kind of is. What we need to remember though is that this is the first part of the Sinombré finale. Originally, Miro conceived it to be a double album but it seems like the ideas kept flowing the closer we get to our end of days (there’s nothing like a good collapse of civilisation to get the creative juices flowing). This means now that we’re left wanting more, wanting our pay off and our conclusion. Instead we’re asked for patience; “Mortal Babies” should be worth our wait.
Again, as with the other albums in the series, Paul handles everything here instrumentally and musically, a feat that feels mind boggling, especially when you start dissecting the songs. Although the album relies on the traditional guitar, bass and drums, electronica is used a lot more on this album than its siblings, and it’s used incredibly well. The songs are given huge spaces to inhabit, nothing sounds cluttered. It’s like Paul is dreaming his visions out on IMAX screens while his contemporaries are kind of left still in the silent era. There are familiar sounds and themes, both musically and lyrically, that appear from the previous two volumes. This isn’t to say that he’s ripping himself off, quite the opposite. With Sinombré he’s playing the long game, different motifs recur and revisit when they’re needed in the ever growing universe that these creations inhabit.
Paul’s voice as well is something that still catches you unawares. He has range and power, knowing when to hold back and when to let go. There’s a real bluesy timbre to his voice while still managing to raise himself up to the higher reaches when he needs to with ease. There’s a cleanliness to it (obviously not all down to the lockdown hygiene regime) while still having the right amount of grit to give it an emotional ability that of lot of others lack.
“Freedom Machine” draws you in, reintroducing you to that world of what could be that seems to be getting closer each day. With current limitations, the album is only available for download through Paul’s website (where you can also get downloads of volume one and two as well as his back catalogue), so I would recommend that you need to head over sooner rather than later. Listeners can come in fresh and not feel left out but I really advise you immerse yourself with the extended family as they’re all excellent releases. You could argue that with these Paul has succeeded in providing the soundtrack of our times, so let’s hope that the final release “Mortal Babies” has a happy ending, other wise we could all be in some trouble.
Website - www.paulmiro.com
Review - Scott Hamilton