Surfing on a sun-drenched wave of psychedelia comes Brighton’s very own Merry Pranksters, Wax Machine. Primarily recorded and mixed in a closet room directly above a mortuary, their self-produced album Hermit’s Grove is a heady trip through progressive psychedelia, kitsch Italian library music and Brazilian tropicalia. Led off by the single Guardians of Eden, the album is set for release on 1st July via Batov Records (Şatellites, Sababa 5).
Wax Machine is the project of Brazilian-born, Italian/English-raised Lau Ro, who takes a deep dive into their Brazilian heritage on this LP, taking inspiration from 60s tropicalia music and movement and the likes of Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa.
“Brazil is where I was born and grew up until I was 8 years old, and it's where my family is from. We then immigrated to Europe and I was never able to visit Brazil after that as it's a very expensive flight. Instead I've opted for the next best thing which is connecting with the spirit and culture of Brazil via the medium of music.”
The album features a version of Canto De Iemanja from Vinicius De Moraes and Baden Powell's seminal 1966 Brazilian album Os Afro sambas. Canto De Iemanja is about the goddess of the sea Iemanja, a chant Lau has often found themselves singing to the sea in their hometown of Brighton.
“The ocean is a muse of mine. I go to the sea whenever I can, her presence enlivens, refreshes and brings me deeper awareness. This version is a homage both to my motherland and the great big blue that separates us.”
The first single and album opener Guardians of Eden is carried in on a cloud of flutes and birdsong. The first half celebrates the light and beauty of this world, while the second half is a reflection on the shadow of our existence here. The three minute, psychedelic explosion of Springtime is a "meditation on the cycles of nature, the dance of duality, the swinging of the cosmic pendulum.”
Two EPs in 2018 preceded their debut album Earthsong of Silence in 2020, with Clash Magazine declaring that Wax Machine “occupy a space somewhere in the gaps where English psych-folk, sun drenched West Coast sounds, Brazilian Tropicália and spiritual jazz overlap.” That year they also had a track featured on the Mr. Bongo Record Club 4 compilation.
Although there is constantly evolving line up both in studio and on stage, long time collaborators Toma Sapir (drums, percussions, samples/synths), Isobel Jones (Flute/Vocals) and Ella Russell (vocals in Canto De lemanja) all appear on both albums.
A tour de force live, the group have shared the stage with the likes of the Babe Rainbow, Kikagaku Moyo and Vanishing Twin. The band are currently in the midst of a UK and European tour, ending with a homecoming show in Brighton on 27th May.
On the album Isobel Jones plays Flute/Vocals, Toma Sapir - drums, percussions and samples/synths, Freddie Willatt – sax, Ella Russell vocals in “Canto De lemanja”, Kate Mager - bass in “...Iemanja”, Adam Campbell - electric piano, Marja Burchard(from Embryo/Karl Hector) - vibraphones on “Gaian Dream”.
released July 1, 2022
'Compositions written and arranged by Lau, except for Canto De Iemanjá (written by Vinícius de Moraes and Baden Powell)
Lau - guitars, bass, vocals, percussion, drums (on Springtime)
Toma Sapir - drums, percussion, samples/synths
Isobel Jones - flute, vocals
Adam Campbell - electric piano
Freddie Willatt - tenor saxophone
Marja Burchard - vibraphone (on Gaian Dream)
Ella Russell - vocals (on Canto De Iemanjá)
Kate Mager - bass (on Canto De Iemanjá)
Recorded and mixed by Lau
Additional recording by Joseph Thorpe (on Canto De Iemanjá and Gaian Dream) at Brighton Electric Studio
Mastered by Gareth Small
Artwork by Andrew McGranahn
Photography by Zofia Szymanowska (on the insert)
Special thanks to Melanie Xulu, Malcolm Catto, Russ Saunders, Helen Young, Daisy Rickman, Fae Haley, Grace Brangwyn, Kt Allen, Maddy Fernfairy, Edmund Lloyd-Winder, Rose Dutton, Pete Piskov and everyone who took part in this project. This record would not be here without all your support and encouragement.
This album was made during a transformational time in my life. The music was a doorway into an inner world beyond the limitations of my old identity. It is an invocation of the Sun and the Sea. An exploration into the tones of my Brazilian roots. The sound of surrendering to blissful solitude. An ode to mother Earth and a call for reconnection with her divine flow.
It was also mostly recorded and mixed in a tiny closet room directly above the mortuary in a funeral care place. It was quite a challenge working around the hum of the refrigerator, trying to keep my feet warm and dealing with the ghosts in the machine...
Love to all! - Lau'