Exposé Online banner

Big Big Train — The Difference Machine
(English Electric Recordings EERCD 003, 2007, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01

The Difference Machine Cover art

Over the years, UK proggers Big Big Train have been migrating their sound from the Genesis-ish fare served up on early records like 1994's Goodbye to the Age of Steam to a more modern approach first explored on 2004's Gathering Speed. The laid back and pastoral vibe the group is keen on makes several appearances here, punctuated by the viola work of Becca King and earthy flute playing of Tony Wright. When the band rocks, as on "Saltwater Falling on Uneven Ground," they sound like a cross between Spock's Beard (no doubt due to the guest appearances by Nick D'Virgilio and Dave Meros), Jadis, and Porcupine Tree. Clearly Gregory Spawton and Andy Poole have read the prog rock tealeaves and have decided to join the current trend toward "emo-prog" trail-blazed by P Tree and taken up by groups like Pineapple Thief. For those looking for melodic and well-executed prog that's not as sunny or upbeat as bands like The Flower Kings I'd recommend giving this one a listen. The musical chairs of guest contributors threatens to disrupt the albums sonic continuity, though whether it's Meros or Marillion's Pete Trewavas playing bass, the material hangs on to its moody and richly textured ambiance. Don't ask me what the concept behind the album is about, even if an emotional ennui conveyed in the three short instrumental bridges seems to be trying to tell a story. Not that it matters. This collection stands on its own and should find favor among mainstream prog fans.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Big Big Train, Nick D'Virgilio (NDV)

Latest news

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Five Fifteen - Death of a Clown – Over the course of Five Fifteen’s previous albums, there has been a series of songs dealing with a character we can call the Golden Boy, a rock star going through the usual rock star things....  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues