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by Frank Giokas

Meghan Yates began her journey in rural Maine, writing and performing as a solo singer-songwriter since 2002. She is grounded in raw, unfiltered artistry – a prolific painter born to a First Nation Mi’kmaq mother and seafaring Colombian father. She grew up without television, sang in the woods as a child and learned sacred principles beside maternal elders. Meghan is a self-taught, acoustic finger-style guitarist of virtuoso technique. It became her instrument of choice to create songs she describes as “reflections of inner world dialogue, tuned to a universal pulse.”

Her style has the soul and strike of 70s era Joni Mitchell mixed with the unfettered, brilliant timbre of Björk and a guttural delivery all her own. Watching and listening to Meghan sing is like hearing one’s own soul reflected through a blessed vessel. It comes from a fire-filled, compassionate place of purity. It is honest, elemental music.

The Reverie Machine are the melody of a guided essence, a Bellingham band who epitomize the mystical heart of our unique community.  Their artistic mission bears fruit intended to heal with musical soundtracks created to bring witness to our communal wonderment of spirit – when the veil is lifted and inner and outer worlds become one. It is not an easy task. The husband and wife alt-folk duo of Meghan Yates and Mordechai Rosenblatt know all too well that life is a journey of contrasts: sloppy and pure, difficult and easy, old and new. But The Reverie Machine are here to remind us – there is beauty in all we do.  We need only listen and participate to create the world we want to live in.

Music and marriage

In May 2009, Meghan celebrated her birthday with an open mic performance in Portland, Maine. Mordechai Rosenblatt, a musician new to town from New Jersey, arrived to play the same night.  As Meghan sang, Mordechai experienced epiphany.  Transfixed in awe, crying, enjoying all that was her being, he saw his future: “I will either play in a band with her – or marry her.”

The couple reveled in first date harmony, celebrated their first kiss with a co-written song born from the excitement. It was in this playful way that The Reverie Machine began. After a three-month courtship, the two were married. Their meeting, band and sacred union occurred in virtually simultaneous eruption. Unplanned spark became fire. For The Reverie Machine, their marriage and music are one.

Mordechai, a multi-instrumentalist with DIY-punk roots, chose bass at the group’s inception. His intention? To support Meghan with a grounding instrument, as both husband and bandmate. He has since shifted to six string electric guitar, playing melodies that highlight his wife’s vocal subtlety and acoustic idiosyncrasy. As songwriters, they are passionate archaeologists. Meghan digs up the bones of a song. Mordechai brushes away the dirt. They do not aim for anything. The Reverie Machine take delight in uncovering mystery and allowing presence to be their guide.

The group released two full length albums and traveled the US and Europe with a rotating ensemble which saw frequent member changes. On tour in 2013, they played The Subdued Stringband Jamboree and felt a pull to Bellingham like no other, vowing to one day settle here.  An exhaustive cycle of travel and personal challenges ensued and by the close of 2014 the couple was grieving. Meghan had a miscarriage, her best friend was dying from cancer and the two had no place to live. They put faith in an inner voice, called to emerge from a dark cave. The Jamboree had created another spark. And their next move ignited the fire. They packed a car and came to Bellingham.

Graceful presence

Since arriving in town, Meghan and Mordechai have affirmed themselves by what they term “grace” – a practice of “stepping into energy received, not created, by listening and taking steps.” It informs their lives and music. They felt so inspired, the duo created a brand new record out Sept. 30 entitled, A Little Grace.

The Reverie Machine’s newest album is a story about nature’s inherent contrasts which dominate our worlds. It is filled with songs of rebirth, resurrection, destruction and rediscovery, recognition of purpose, the divine feminine, true self and community. Mountains, canyons, caves and desert become characters in tales which honor our inner and outer realities. It is the story of life – a journey that can be hard and strange – but is what it is.

With A Little Grace, we become witness to both shimmers and shadow, here to appreciate all the beauty of not knowing what may come. When Meghan became pregnant, there was only one name that came to mind – Grace. She stepped inside the grief, listened and chose to create the blessing she felt. This record is that special gift. Please come celebrate The Reverie Machine’s album release show on Sept. 30 at Presence Studio, 1412 Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham at 7 p.m. Many blessings of grace to you.

New Americana Hour -- Interview with Boosie Vox
 

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Meghan Yates & The Reverie Machine: The Brightest Night

by Taylor Sutton

Published in the December 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine

It’s almost impossible to categorize Meghan Yates & The Reverie Machine, as their sophomore album, The Brightest Night, seems to transcend genre.

Meghan Yates’ solo career got its start in 2002 in Portland, Maine. She was walking down the street, humming, when the owner of a local club ran out, grabbed her by the arm, and asked her to sing right then and there. Although she was unprepared, Yates sang an a’capella song she had finished writing earlier in the day. About a month later she performed a 30-minute set of acapella songs, and picked up the guitar soon after.

Yates recorded a few solo albums before meeting her husband and bassist, Mordechai Rosenblatt. Together they formed The Reverie Machine in 2009 and released their debut album, Not By Blood in 2012. They have collaborated with many different musicians in order to produce the unique and full sound they do. Along with Yates and Rosenblatt, The Brightest Night features Elliot Heeschen on drums and percussion; Peter Himmer on vibraphone, piano, organ and synth; Thomas Deakin on alto sax; Seth Mullendore on baritone sax; Sarah Hallie Richardson: backing vocals; and Nathaniel Johnson on synth.

To say Meghan Yates has a beautiful voice would be an understatement. It’s too powerful to just simply be beautiful. There’s a depth and darkness in her voice that is so unique. Layer that on top of jazz-infected bass, percussion, and sax and you’re in for an experience that is a bit chaotic and psychedelic at times (in the absolute best way), but also incredibly deep and soulful.

The Brightest Night is a diverse and all-encompassing album, from the up-tempo jazz feel “Waking Dreams” to the soft but driving build up to a powerful climax of sound in “Everyone Deserves Love.” It’s music for the senses. It’s big, in the macro sense that it’s about the spectrum of humanity and what it means to exist. At the same time, it’s incredibly personal in its ability to speak to individuals and force them to look inside themselves. As Sam Pfeifle said in his review of their first album, “… This is music taken straight from your very marrow …”

 

Taylor Sutton

Making Noise: Reverie Machine working hard to fulfill their dream

The band released its debut record, 'Not By Blood,' in October.

by Aimsel Ponti 

Published November 8th, 2012 in Portland Press Herald 

 

The Reverie Machine is a Portland-based band led by vocalist and ordained minister Meghan Yates, who says that her spiritual life greatly informs how she creates. Her band released its debut record “Not By Blood,” in October. The album is home to 11 lyrically rich and aurally complex tunes, anchored by Yates’ voice that rises up from an infinite abyss of ancient wisdom. Find the band online at reveriemachine.com *(meghanyatesandthereveriemachine.com), on Facebook and on Spotify, and purchase “Not By Blood” at Bandcamp and Amazon.

The Reverie Machine formed in 2010, and its core members are Yates on vocals, guitar and tape loops; her husband, Mordechai Rosenblatt, on bass, guitars, piano and vocals; and Elliot Heeschen on drums, percussion, organs and vocals. GO caught up with Yates for a virtual cup of tea and some scintillating chat.

Why the name The Reverie Machine?

The name came through a process of looking at what each of us brought to the project. I am both full of reverie and wonderment and a song-making machine. My band truly reflects these qualities too. We work really hard to make good music, and we love what we do.

Why is the album called “Not By Blood?”

The name came from the track “Boy with a Story,” and the full lyric is, “I’m related not by blood, but by water to the body of these reflections ” The album deals directly with my severe and unusual childhood, and what has brought me joy amidst much turmoil and loss. The title refers to being related to a larger family, which includes my blood relations yet honors all of the folks who have contributed to my well-being and success.

Do you have a favorite song on the record? If so, which one and why?

I have to say that “Lady of the Sea” does it for me. The way the textures were handled and the production serve the song in a way that gives me chills. I am also most attached to the content, which touches on the death of my father, who was a fisherman and who ultimately was most in love with the ocean.

I also love the hope “Ran Hard” provides. The song feels like a homecoming — and I love the way (trumpet player) Mark Tipton’s part interplays with my vocals at the end. Recording that song opened me up to a whole new way of singing.

What’s your songwriting process like? What inspires and informs it?

My songwriting process is possibly the most honest display of how I function from moment to moment. I gather impressions and charged words and story-lines, and after it all collects and builds enough pressure, I eventually sit down and wait for the music to come through. I am most concerned with naming the more subtle aspects of the human experience, and I often achieve this through being honest about my own experiences.

At some point, it gets to be bigger than one person, and I love that about music. There’s something that is conveyed beyond the words, yet if you rest just on what is said, you can still be satisfied.

When did you start singing?

I have always been singing. I was a shy and awkward kid who didn’t have any friends — so I read and I sang. I began mimicking great singers like Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison and Julie Andrews. Then I moved into a serious love affair with jazz. Then I found Tori Amos and Bjork, and that got mixed up with Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading.

I eventually began writing my own songs. I think I started in fifth grade. I wrote mostly a capella until 2004, when I picked up the guitar. My father was a great blues player; self-taught and brilliant. He was always pressuring me to pick the guitar up, and I just couldn’t see myself playing it. I liked to mess around with the piano, mostly. I have dabbled with other instruments, but nothing called out to me except singing.

When I finally picked up the guitar, I fell in love with it. It felt natural, and I was able to write much more complex music and felt more confident as a performer with accompaniment. It’s scary to always sing a capella. Everything is exposed and raw. I love that, though. I love relying on something that I always have with me.

What’s next for the band?

We are working on getting the next body of work ready for recording. The sound is a bit different — more vocal, simple and chant-like. We are working towards having another release sometime next summer/fall.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

aponti@pressherald.com

 

Raise your hands for the Reverie - and they all shall be ‘Joyful Captives’

by Sam Pfeifle 

Published January 16th 2013 in Portland Phoenix 

SNEAKING UP ON YOU The Reverie Machine have had a slow build, but are finding their stride now.
The chorus rules all. The songs that capture the public imagination repeat with vengeance, feeding the human mind’s taste for predictability.

If a band choose, like the Reverie Machine, to eschew this popular device, the onus is upon them to deliver that much more: a mood, lyrics that grab you by the throat, elements that stick with you beyond the initial listen.

And it helps if your vocalist, like Meghan Yates, has a distinctive and powerful voice that can lead a band like any great instrumentalist, teasing out notes and bending songs to her will.

The result is a mix of the National and Norah Jones, or maybe Jolie Holland, rolling waves of rhythm section led by single-note guitar accompanied by artful vocal phrasing. Their debut record, Not By Blood, has been simmering on my iPod for months, finally demanding a full week’s worth of listens that have left me wondering why it took me so long to dive in.

They’ve had a slow build in general, grabbing some limelight as part of the last-ever Building of Song in Congress Square, back in the summer of 2010, and finally releasing this album in October. They creep up on you, relying not on the hook but on the repetition and cycling of Mordechai Rosenblatt’s electric guitar and thrumming bass, locked in with Elliot Heeschen’s skittering and shuffling percussion.

The album is a dense experience, maybe best personified by “Truman Capote and the Heavy Weight Cloud, Small Town, U.S.A.,” where Yates comes out big in the open, emoting like nobody’s business, with percussive glottal stops, like Death Cab for Cutie two inches from your face.

”We built our world with sticks and shadows,” she sings, and you feel as though, of course, this is a music taken straight from your very marrow — and when the electric guitar solo enters it is spare, broken, esoteric, and hard to grasp. In place of a catchy chorus is a familiarity that makes a chorus extraneous, like the song’s been living inside you for a while and you’re just now recognizing it.

”Owl Skin” is more jazzy, with jittery brushes on the snare and active in the bass, especially. The guitar runs up and down the strings with single notes, jaunty if unsure: “And I could have sworn/That I saw the mark you bore/In the face of the sea/But you weren’t really there.” The head-nodding is near irresistible.

And then you get something as powerful and subtle as “Sometimes,” with Jose Gonzalez classical guitar and a far-off bass like an oncoming storm. When Mark Tipton’s trumpet enters, it’s ensnaring, something you can give yourself over to entirely: “I’m just longing for that rock and roll kind of life,” in a way that’s rock and roll in the most philosophical of manners.

You might even mistake it for a jam. “Trendy Love Blues” has a ton of Phish to it, like “Divided Sky” as sung by Billie Holiday. There’s a playful woodblock paired with a moody guitar, and talk of children that haven’t yet come to pass. “Lady of the Sea” reminds of Steely Dan, something that wouldn’t dream of killing your buzz, with a tribal vibe and tambourine to keep them honest. “Little Things” has a military cadence and a bright sustain, with rising pop vocals and a hint of Bobby Darin. In repeated listens, it can take on a digital feel, even though it’s completely organically created, like Moby meshing those Delta blues recordings with mechanical beats. Yates is of the Earth; her band play in a hovercraft behind her, a glittering and illuminating background. There are times, as with “Spice,” where there’s an element of Vampire Weekend-style polyrhythms, but the Reverie Machine never get too mechanical or predictable. While songs can cycle and repeat, six-minute songs fly by like wisps, and Yates refuses to let your attention wander.

”And I hope you will join me,” she sings on the closing “Ran Hard,” a gloss on her vocals like blown glass, “I will plan accordingly.” Then a four on the floor enters, about as unobtrusively as that can possibly happen, and the thump turns this into a dance tune, with an ocean of melody in which to swim.

I’m not sure how you could have planned for that.
— Sam Pfeifle - Portland Phoenix

CD Review: Reverie Machine's individual parts add up to soulful, spiritual whole

'Not By Blood' is a CD worth digging into and exploring.

By KRISTIN DiCARA-McCLELLAN

Published in Portland Press Herald December 5th, 2012 

Once you’ve heard the name The Reverie Machine, you’ve had the most proper introduction to the band comprising Meghan Yates, Mordechai Rosenblatt and Elliot Heeschen, who all chime in with various components of the machine.

The first, most striking thing about their new CD, “Not By Blood,” is Yates’ jazzy voice, as it is revealed to the listener immediately in a capella form. It is the kind of voice that some will love and others might need a bit of warming up to. But most importantly, it is unmistakable. No matter what, it is clear in the beginning that she is perfectly comfortable in her role.

And she should be because even a casual read of her lyrics will reveal a river that runs incredibly deep in every word she puts out there.

The first set of tunes roll out against a mostly pitch-black sonic background, with Heeschen’s cheery, shuffling drum work on top of the mix with Yates’ vocals. Rosenblatt’s bass pushes air around underneath them with the patience of a saint.

The guitar plays along hypnotically, adding color only sparsely while lines such as “you know the word got out about those boys, those brutal sons of somebody, someone’s neighbor, someone’s friends” roll out across an audible landscape.

Track six sees the first dramatic tonal shift in the album. A lonely horn by Mark Tipton drifts in against a plucking guitar part reminiscent of The Doves while the bassist and the drummer take a break. It’s a tune that is nearly the antithesis to its very own premise: “I’m longing for that rock ‘n’ roll kind of love.”

But just when you might begin to think you’ve heard it all from the Machine, “Lady of the Sea” pushes out an equally awesome, pulsing groove courtesy of the rhythm section. Some very interesting keyboards fall behind the vocals to powerful effect, and the album has officially established a new course that is once again brought full-circle in the final cut, “Ran Hard,” a song that makes the front and back ends of “Not By Blood” congruent to each other.

Special contributions are made by Peter Himmer on vibraphone and percussion. Sara Hallie Richardson, Katie Pinard and Todd Hutchisen all pitch in on vocals.

But the especially notable piece is the production that Hutchisen and The Reverie Machine developed on this album.

”Not By Blood” is a CD worth digging into and exploring. Its treasures are simply revealed in voice, lyric and melody, but deeply revealed in soul and spirit through each individual’s longing to connect in tune.
— Kristin DiCara-McClellan

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