Machines of Love and War

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Since their inception in 1987, the machines of love and war has featured the multi-instrumentalist Daniel Haskin as its main stay and has recently brought on that automaton that we all know and love Celestia Otterleigh.

The Machines have recently released their self-titled CD Machines of love and war, the EP beautiful last thing, and last years release supersonic Mellotronic featuring the single “dragonfly” recently heard on BBC Essex. They have also once again failed to be nominated for the mercury music prize.

Featured on BBC Essex and Sprung from the streets of Chelmsford Essex UK, Ockleford Avenue to be exact, Machines of Love and War blend the warm sounds of electronica with trip hop beats and ambient noise.

In the early 80’s Haskin was working on a set of variant lowfi tapes that picked up a little noise from local radio but nothing quite enough to speak of though. It was when Haskin fell in with vocalist/synthesist Celestia Otterleigh when it really took off stylistically for him. In 1986 while roaming through the country town of Writtle looking for a part for his treasured Korg MS2000 that had unfortunately been shoved off the stage in disgust at a previous gig at the Chelmsford Odeon, he came across a young girl pitching bread to the birds at the Duck Pond on the Green. Daniel and Celestia stuck up a conversation concerning all things ambient. Celestia’s knowledge of the Moog Modular Synthestzer brought a tear to the young Daniel’s eye and a partnership was born. Previously known as the “Poor Man’s Barkley James Harvest”, Machines of Love and War changed musical directions and rode the electronica bandwagon of the late 90s all the way to the poorhouse.

Haskin took a break from his electronica project and helped form “The Dreaming” in the year 2000, this band was a huge stylistic escape from his electronica compositions. The proggy folk rock stylings of The Dreaming, whose main claim to fame was opening a set of shows for folk prog legends the Strawbs, was a step away from Haskin’s Enoesque leanings. But as Haskin states “David Cousins never met a bottle of Southern Comfort that he didn’t love so on with the show.” They went on to produce three good solid albums in the early 2000s but a clash of catastrophic egos dissolved the band in 2007 and Haskin emerged with a revitalized Machines of Love and War in 2008. This second wave produced the albums ‘Beautiful Lost Thing’, the self titled ‘Machines of Love and War’ album, and 2015’s ‘Supersonic Mellotronic’, featuring the single “Dragonfly” as heard on BBC Essex, a favorite of host Ollie Winiberg.

Haskin, to the dismay of Celestia Otterleigh, has taken yet another sabbatical (also known as his ‘black sabbatical’), from the band to work on another full band project called “The Dream Collective”. The Dream Collective features lead singers Leah Pinnavaia, Corrine Best, drummer Patrick O’Connell, bassist John Caruso, and Daniel Haskin on guitar. Their sound is reminiscent of the Decemberists if they had a fiveway with Annie Lennox, Patti Smith, Strawbs, and an even more laid-back Anthony Phillips.

As for the Machines of Love and War, Lemon Jelly said it best “we are not dead, we are merely sleeping.”
D. James Grainger
Kentish Town

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