As a guitarist, influence always seems to creep into my playing. I could work on a riff for hours (sometimes days) and think I’ve got something special only to realize that it was already done by Sonic Youth a decade before I started playing or played by Jeff Beck before Thurston Moore was born! Despite being the primary musical instrument of pop culture, artists are still creating new compositions by way of their influences. But it’s rare to stumble upon an artist who expands upon those influences. Such is the case with Marcus Machado and his debut LP Aquarius Purple.
Sadly, when it comes to being a black guitarist, the media never fails to automatically draw comparisons to Jimi Hendrix. And while having your name spoken in the same breath as the legendary Hendrix is an extraordinary compliment, it also inadvertently trivializes the artist’s talent. When I listen to Aquarius Purple, I honestly do hear the Hendrix influence. However, I also hear the likes of D’Angelo and Raphael Saddiq, as well as every guitarist who convinced a kid to pick up a guitar. Machado defies his influences. It’s really that simple!
With layers of Hip-Hop, Soul, Psychedelica, blues, and good old-fashioned rock n’ roll, Machado rarely stays in a lane long enough to be labeled. From the blistering virtuoso of “Black Psychedelic Funk” to the painfully on-point lyrics of “Shape Shift” (featuring Jswiss and Ahrel Lumzy at the mic), the album goes places I wasn’t expecting. In fact, my favorite tracks on Aquarius Purple (“Get By” and “Her”) are the tracks that encourage me to drop my preconceptions and listen to an artist convey his heart and soul through his music. This is what real artistry is about.
But what makes Aquarius Purple such a remarkable album, is the heart put into it. It’s not about hip-hop beats and guitar wizardry. I truly believe every note Machado plays as if it were lines taken directly from a diary of his deepest secrets. Even the tone of his guitar sounds as unique as your fingerprints or dental records. It’s straight-up, uncompromising artistry from start to finish. No gimmicks, no winks, and absolutely no pandering of influences. This is not the kind of record you listen to and say “Oh this sounds a bit like Hendrix…”. This is the kind of record that influences you to create your own music.
Aquarius Purple is available on limited edition vinyl exclusively from Soul Step Records. And while it’s a fantastic album on any format, this is an album made for a turntable.
For more information on Marcus Machado, please visit his official website.
To purchase Aquarius Purple on limited edition vinyl, please visit Soul Step Records.