A new melodic Progressive Rock Band from Yorkshire, England
Ghost Of The Machine formed in January 2021 when five former members of This Winter Machine — Graham Garbett (guitars), Mark Hagan (keyboards and piano), Stuart McAuley (bass, Moog pedals and Mellotron), Andy Milner (drums) and Scott Owens (guitars) — joined forces with Charlie Bramald (flautist for Nova Cascade, and former lead vocalist for all-eras prog tribute Harmony of Spheres).
Taking the best elements from their previous endeavours and key influences such as Rush, Marillion, Dream Theater and Genesis, while pushing forward in a heavier, adventurous and exciting direction, Ghost Of The Machine spent its first year writing and recording its debut album Scissorgames. With the album complete, Ghost of the Machine supported the album with live performances throughout 2022, appearing at the inaugural Soundle Weekend and Danfest 11, and sharing stages with bands such as Franck Carducci And The Fantastic Squad, IT, Haze, The Dame and The Far Meadow.
There's no doubting the pedigree of Ghost Of The Machine; its respective members achieved critical acclaim with their contributions to The Man Who Never Was (2017) and A Tower Of Clocks (2019) under the This Winter Machine banner, and Nova Cascade's releases such as A Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows (2019) and Back From The Brink (2021) were warmly received by the progressive music community. The band is confident that Scissorgames will similarly find favour with fans old and new.
Collectively, the band members' live résumés are impeccable, having supported the likes of Marillion and Magnum over their music careers, and appearing at the major prog festivals and headlining popular venues while with This Winter Machine. A curious footnote to add is that the exact Ghost Of The Machine line-up appeared as This Winter Machine at The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton on 7 December 2019, with Bramald stepping in on vocals for one night only. This paved the way for Bramald's invitation to join Ghost Of The Machine just over a year later.
Ghost Of The Machine was named Prog Magazine's #2 unsigned band in the readers' poll 2022, an impressive honour for a band in its debut year. The band is eager to build on this momentum in 2023, with more live shows planned and a second album already in the works.
PLACE YOUR BETS AND LET THE GAMES BEGIN...
The eagerly awaited debut album from Ghost Of The Machine arrived on 3 June 2022. Scissorgames is comprised of seven epic songs which explore the tangled lines between love and abuse. At its core, the album is about finding Hope, no matter how insurmountable a situation may seem.
Within just a month of Ghost Of The Machine's formation, the song list and the album title had fallen into place. Surprisingly, this all happened through Zoom meetings and trading ideas — some new, some old, some very, very old — over email. It wasn't until March 2021 that the band would finally be able to get together in person to rehearse and work on the material.
A clear direction emerged in the sound, influenced by the neo-prog sounds of the 80s, particularly the output of Marillion and Rush, and augmented with a modern, hard-rocking and hook-laden edge. Bursts of euphoria find perfect equilibrium with Mark Hagan's characteristically melancholic chord arrangements and atmospheric soundscapes. Graham Garbett and Scott Owens' pairing on guitars threads the line between bite and beauty in even measure, trading exquisitely formulated riffs and solos, and Stuart McAuley mines a rich vein of melody and power with a stellar array of carefully crafted bass, Mellotron and Moog pedal parts — it is prog, after all! On drums, Andy Milner offers a muscular musicality and detail that few other drummers could dare to match, his parts constantly surprising and evolving from one section of a song to the next. As for the vocals, Charlie Bramald channels innate theatrical tendencies into emotional lyrical journeys, wearing the voices of his characters like a costume, and conveying them with a thrilling high range and melodic instinct. The band was clearly invigorated by what they were creating and the summer was spent honing the songs, and choosing the perfect recording studio to realise the album's vision.
In October 2021, production began at The Chairworks in Castleford, the North of England's largest and finest recording studio complex. The band teamed up with the outstanding Bob Cooper to produce, record and mix the album, with Grant Berry of Fader Mastering enlisted to master the record. The Scissorgames cover art was brought to life by incredible Italian artist Claudia Caranfa. As 2022 entered Spring, the final touches were made and Ghost Of The Machine was ready to release Scissorgames to the world. The lead single Mountain was released on 16 May 2022 ahead of the album's launch.
The album launched to excellent reviews, with Progradar lauding Scissorgames as "one of the best debut progressive rock albums of 2022". Polish radio show and website MLWZ.pl selected it as their album of the month for June, with a similarly positive review. Prog Magazine featured a review in issue 131 which described the album as "neo-prog gold". It collected various "Best Album" awards at the end of 2022 (progrock.com's Prog Rock For Beginners + ProgPhonic, Check It Out, and Across The Universal Soundscape), as well as "Best Debut Album" (Music In Widescreen), and it topped the Prog Explorations Plus 2022 listener's poll. The opening track Scissors won "Best Epic" on Epic Prog Radio's annual poll, and was awarded the coveted "Song of the Year" accolade by Music In Widescreen.