Extraordinary Machine

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
The story of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine is one of rock's great David vs. Goliath tales, rife with corporate machinations, artistic ground-holding, and more he-said-she-said whispers than a Tinseltown divorce. Well, more than two years after it was initially slated to be released -- and a full six years since Apple's last offering -- Extraordinary Machine has finally kicked into gear, with absorbing results. The 11-song disc has been tweaked considerably -- fans who heard the leaked material that circulated on the Internet in the year prior to this release might not recognize wide swaths -- but Apple's iconoclastic vision remains unbowed. That's evident in the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
The story of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine is one of rock's great David vs. Goliath tales, rife with corporate machinations, artistic ground-holding, and more he-said-she-said whispers than a Tinseltown divorce. Well, more than two years after it was initially slated to be released -- and a full six years since Apple's last offering -- Extraordinary Machine has finally kicked into gear, with absorbing results. The 11-song disc has been tweaked considerably -- fans who heard the leaked material that circulated on the Internet in the year prior to this release might not recognize wide swaths -- but Apple's iconoclastic vision remains unbowed. That's evident in the seething delivery she affords "Red Red Red," one of her patented slash-and-burn jilted-lover laments, as well as in the stark piano ballad "Parting Gift." Apple makes some concessions to mainstream tastes here -- "Tymps" is built on a hip-hop beat that the Black Eyed Peas could easily turn into a soft drink commercial -- but for the most part, Extraordinary Machine is enticingly difficult to pin down. The disc's title track, with its quizzical bassoon blurts and teasing string interjections, has a good bit of Broadway in its blood, a vibe that Apple matches with her clipped, theatrical delivery. She takes a similar approach on "Get Him Back," a finger-popping beatnik torch song that warns potential suitors about her willingness to "kill what [she] cannot catch." The old saying goes that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but as Apple proves on this disc, you can entrap even more with a combination of the two.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
To say that the released version of Extraordinary Machine is a marked improvement over the bootlegged version is not to say that it sounds more complete -- after all, the booted Jon Brion productions sounded finished, as evidenced by the two cuts that were retained; the intricate chamber pop of the opening title track and the closing "Waltz (Better Than Fine)" are the only time Brion's productions not only suited, but enhanced Fiona Apple's songs -- but they are both more accessible, and more fully realized, letting Apple's songs breathe in a way they didn't on the original sessions. While Brion's productions were interesting, they stretched his carnivalesque aesthetic to the limit, ultimately obscuring Apple's songs, which were already fussier, artier, and more oblique than her previous work. When matched to Brion's elaborately detailed productions, her music became an impenetrable Wall of Sound, but Mike Elizondo's productions open these songs up, making it easier to hear Apple's songs while retaining most of her eccentricities. Now, Extraordinary Machine sounds like a brighter, streamlined version of When the Pawn, lacking the idiosyncratic arrangement and instrumentation of that record, yet retaining the artiness of the songs themselves. Like her second record, this album is not immediate; it takes time for the songs to sink in, to let the melodies unfold, and decode her laborious words (she still has the unfortunate tendency to overwrite: "A voice once stentorian is now again/Meek and muffled"). Unlike the Brion-produced sessions, peeling away the layers on Extraordinary Machine is not hard work, since it not only has a welcoming veneer, but there are plenty of things that capture the imagination upon first listen -- the pulsating piano on "Get Him Back," the moodiness of "O' Sailor," the coiled bluesy "Better Version of Me," the quiet intensity of the breakup saga "Window," the insistent chorus on "Please Please Please" -- which gives listeners a reason to return and invest time in the album. And once they do go back for repeated listens, Extraordinary Machine becomes as rewarding, if not quite as distinctive, as When the Pawn. Nevertheless, this is neither a return to the sultry, searching balladeering of Tidal, nor a record that will bring her closer to tasteful, classy Norah Jones territory, thereby making her a more commercial artist again. Extraordinary Machine may be more accessible, but it remains an art-pop album in its attitude, intent, and presentation -- it's just that the presentation is cleaner, making her attitude appealing and her intent easier to ascertain, and that's what makes this final, finished Extraordinary Machine something pretty close to extraordinary.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
Extraordinary Machine lives up to its name. (A)

Extraordinary Machine lives up to its name. (A)
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/4/2005
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 696998668324
  • Catalog Number: 86683

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Fiona Apple Primary Artist, Piano, Vocals
Jim Keltner Drums
Benmont Tench Organ
Glenn Berger Flute, Saxophone
Jon Brion Bass, Marimbas
Keith Ciancia Keyboards
George Thatcher Trombone
Brad Warnaar French Horn
Jebin Bruni Keyboards, chamberlain, Portasound
Mike Elizondo Bass, Guitar, Clavinet, Various, Mellotron, Upright Bass, Moog Bass
Brian Kehew Guitar, Keyboards, farfisa organ, Fuzz Guitar
?uestlove Drums
Dave Palmer Keyboards
Abe Laboriel Jr. Percussion, Drums
Zac Rae Celeste, Keyboards, Marimbas, Clavinet, Various, Vibes, ARP, chamberlain, farfisa organ, Pump Organ, Wurlitzer, Marxophone, Optigan, Tack Piano
Roger Joseph Manning Jr. Keyboards
John Daversa Trumpet
Technical Credits
Jon Brion Producer, Orchestral Arrangements
Brian Gardner Mastering
Patrick Warren Orchestral Arrangements
Fiona Apple Composer, Cover Photo
Aimee MacAuley Art Direction
Mike Elizondo Programming, Producer, Engineer, drum programming, Audio Production
Brian Kehew Producer, Audio Production
Adam Hawkins Engineer
Abe Laboriel Jr. Programming
Zac Rae String Ensemble
Tom Biller Engineer
John Daversa Horn Arrangements
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

(3)

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It's no When the Pawn

    Generally disappointing. Fiona’s voice is as rich as ever, but that can hardly compensate for the overall weakness of this work. As I listen to this album, I am reminded of the musical shift between Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink (or, even more dramatically, Boys for Pele). The early work is cohesive, coherent, and thematic. The latter is idiosyncratic, incoherent, and betrays a predilection for self-indulgence. This is not to say that there are no catchy songs here, for there certainly are. In fact, standing on its own, this might seem a better album, but as a successor to the stupendous When the Pawn, this album falls flat. Those seeking the insightful lyrics and melodic tunes of that album will no doubt be disappointed but perhaps even stunned by the striking changes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Suprised how much I like it.

    I like this CD!! I just bought the CD based on the title song, "Extraordinary Machine". I didn't realize how much I listen to it, until I heard my 7 year old daughter singing "Parting Gift" when she was playing in her bedroom. I didn't have the CD playing. I guess she is a fan too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Well worth the wait!

    The extra effort Ms. Apple put into this album really shows. It is such a delight to listen to. I love the throw-back feel to a lot of the songs. It seems she was/is very influenced by music from the 20's, 30's and 40's. The lyrics are very poetic and so full of feeling, like her previous albums, but she just keeps maturing and it keeps getting better. This one will be in my player for a long time, but I can only hope we won't have to wait another 6 years for the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Comeback of 2005!!!!!

    I absolutely adore Fiona Apple. This has to be the best CD of 2005. I listen to it 24/7. Ms. Apple is so intelligent and wonderful. Before I heard "Extraordinary Machine" and "Get Him Back" I didn't know she could hit a high note. It was fantastic!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Can't Stop Listening To It!

    Every song is a winner! The music style is a little different that some of her older work, but you'll quickly fall in love with the new stuff. The lyrics are just as solid as ever. Fiona's voice, like always, is haunting and captivating. Like the heading says, I can't stop listening to it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Still keeping my attention

    I am a big fan of her other two cd's and am delighted to say that this one follows them wonderfully. I am very impressed with her vocals and amazing piano style and would highly recommend this album.

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    Posted January 16, 2009

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    Posted November 10, 2008

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    Posted November 22, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2010

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