Mana Machines is the long-term project of Erik Dewhurst, Portland musician and freelance producer. Active in the local scene since 2000, Erik broke out on his own in 2009. Mana Machines evolved from the typical “DIY” Portland mindset, and Erik writes, performs, records, and produces every element of Mana Machines’ music. However, the result is far different than the typical singer/songwriter formula.
At the core Mana Machines is an experiment in Sci-Fi Love Songs and Electro-Acoustic Prog-Pop. Think Peter Gabriel acoustic pop meets the well-integrated electronica elements of Broken Bells and Postal Service tied together with influences from classic progressive and new prog bands like Coheed and Cambria and Thirty Seconds to Mars.
A major element of the Mana Machines formula is the dedication to release EPs with solid material, rather than unnecessarily padded albums. “No one has the attention span to listen to 45 minutes of music at once,” says Erik. “15 minutes is just about perfect.” “Human Relations” marks the third EP released since 2010.
“Human Relations,” is an EP filled with surprisingly memorable and catchy Sci-Fi Love Songs. The 6 songs include straight ahead pop, acoustic prog-rock, subtle elements of Dub-Step and lyrical nods to science fiction writers P. K. Dick and Robert A. Heinlein.
The EP’s title “Human Relations” is reflected in the songs from start to finish. There’s a lyrical focus on the extremes of relationships; falling in love, breaking up, cheating, and polyamory.
The two standout pop songs of the EP “I Guess” and “High Gloss Photos” are highly energetic and driven by unique yet solid beats. The acoustic prog-rock song “Space” is a tribute to Robert A. Heinlein’s monogamy questioning sci-fi novel “Stranger in a Strange Land”. While “UBIK” is a musical interpretation of Philp K. Dick’s novel of the same name.
The imaginative lyrics and stylistic creativity present in this EP will be hard to top, but Mana Machines promises to continue pushing forward.