Thursday, February 26, 2009. 10am. Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen sit in a fort made of cardboard boxes, scrap lumber, thrift store bed sheets and chicken-wire. Among the second-hand lamps, rugs, and video game consoles the two have come together for an art exhibition about the dark days of winter. The theme resonates with everyone who experiences the chill of winter in Canada, but is particularly poignant in the band’s birthplace of Whitehorse, Yukon.
Old Time Machine started here as the art-show contribution of a bluesman and a bedroom-musician. The duo works to blend McNally’s studies of finger style traditional blues with Cashen’s experience crafting ethereal soundscapes to create familiar but distinctly original music.
Their work started when Ryan put forward a handful of songs departing from his solo writing. Kyle eagerly filled spaces with reverb-soaked vocals and backbeats. With a handful of songs and a mountain of stringed instruments, analog machines and effects, drums, and mics, between them, McNally and Cashen began combining traditional sounding folk structures with ghostly harmonies and vintage electronics.
The pair were later joined in the studio by producer and engineer Jordy Walker and the group developed a sound that feels like it should be heard playing on a tube radio in a dimly lit bar.
Ryan sings and plays a kick drum and high hats while rotating guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. Kyle uses echo, drum machines, a pedal bass, floor tom, ride cymbal, snare, and tambourine. Together the two are a duo of one-man bands facing one another across a sea of percussion, strings, and wood-paneled devices.
The band strikes a balance between references to the early days of pop and rock music, dreamy textures, and even elements of hip-hop. Old Time Machine finds a way to embrace their influences while sounding unmistakably new.