That’s some out there jazz

Roderick Fernandes’ artwork to accompany Sky Machine.

THE second chapter of a grand sci-fi/jazz fusion epic in the making debuts at Ellington Jazz Club on February 16.

The new band and multimedia project Sky Machine combines written sci-fi, intriguing artwork, and jazz with elements of funk, rock and metal to tell a story starting with the Roswell UFO landing and moving on to the colonies of Mars. 

Drummer and school teacher Nathan O’Brien is a big sci fi fan and has planned out the skeleton of the story that’ll build over the next 10 years towards an album trilogy. 

The first four chapters are inspired by the conspiracy theories around a supposed UFO landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. 

“We’re building lore for a bigger story for our album, and introducing characters and villains,” O’Brien says, hinting that the recovered technology sparks humanity on a journey to terraforming Mars and modifying our bodies through bioengineering.

As to how to make the music fit the storyline: “That’s a question and a half… the idea is the music serves the narrative, and the narrative serves the music, and they need to work together with the artwork to tell the story.” 

For now spoken word and artwork sets the groundwork and then the music rolls in as the audience is invited to match the tunes to the tale. 

The next chapter, as the story takes to the stars, will see the metal roots of some of the band members woven into the music as the tale becomes more high tech.

The artwork is a big part of the project, working with a dark palette compared to the more common bright pulp-style visions of the future from the 20th century.

O’Brien commissioned artist Roderick Fernandes to bring the vision to life. “I got in contact with him and told him the vision for the project,” O’Brien says, and after seeing the first works “he just absolutely nailed it and did an amazing job. I told him that’s incredible, I love the work, so he said he’s going to do the next two chapters.”

O’Brien says: “I’m just enjoying writing the stories, it’s a fulfilling thing to do because I’ve just been drumming for years and years… [but] I’m a teacher as well so I have to make sure my writing’s correct.”

The band’s currently a five-piece, with another mainstay member being guitarist David D’Uva who O’Brien met through teaching when he was on prac. “He was my mentor, he also loves jazz fusion. The other members I got through recommendations.”

Chapter 2: Prototype launches at the Ellington Jazz Club on February 16. Tix, backstory and art at skymachineperth.com

by DAVID BELL

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