Machina/The Machines of God

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Machina/The Machines of God
The smashing pumpkins machina cover.jpg
Studio album by The Smashing Pumpkins
ReleasedFebruary 29, 2000 (2000-02-29)
RecordedNovember 1998 – October 1999
StudioSadlands, Pumpkinland & Chicago Recording Company, Chicago, Illinois, United States
The Smashing Pumpkins chronology
Machina/The Machines of God
Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
Singles from Machina/The Machines of God
  1. "The Everlasting Gaze"
    Released: December 9, 1999
  2. "Stand Inside Your Love"
    Released: February 21, 2000
  3. "Try, Try, Try"
    Released: September 11, 2000

Machina/The Machines of God is the fifth studio album by the American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, released on February 29, 2000, by Virgin Records. A concept album,[3] it marked the return of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and was intended to be the band's final official LP release prior to their first break up in 2000. A sequel album — Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music — was later released independently via the Internet, and limited quantities for the physical version.

As with its predecessor, Adore, Machina represented a drastic image and sound change for the band that failed to reconnect the band with chart-topping success. However, after the relatively brief Adore tour, the new line-up with Chamberlin and the former Hole bass guitarist Melissa Auf der Maur mounted longer international tours that returned the live incarnation of the band to a guitar-driven hard rock style.[4]

Corgan announced in 2011 his intention to release a remastered and expanded version of the album (as a double album including songs from Machina II) as a part of the band's project to reissue their back catalogue from 1991 to 2000, though Corgan announced in July 2015 that the release was tied up in legal issues with their record label. These issues were resolved and Corgan began working on the project in October 2018.

Background and concept[edit]

After the Adore tour ended in the second half of 1998, lead singer/guitarist Billy Corgan immediately began to work on new material, playing new songs as early as October of that year.[5] In the same month, the four original band members convened, and decided that Jimmy Chamberlin would rejoin the band, and that a final album and tour would be mounted before the group disbanded permanently.[6] "If you want to know what Jimmy brings back to the band," Corgan told Q, "then listen to Adore and this new record back-to-back. It speaks for itself."[7]

Corgan envisioned a lengthy concept album in conjunction with a musical theater approach to a tour, based around the idea of the band playing exaggerated versions of themselves, as the press and public seemed to view them.[8][9] He later explained, "the band had become such cartoon characters at that point in the way we were portrayed in the media, the idea was that we would sort of go out and pretend we were the cartoon characters."[8]

Billy Corgan's chart showing the loose story of Machina and Machina II

From there, a story was conceived revolving around a rock star named Zero (based on the public persona of Corgan) hearing the voice of God, renaming himself Glass, and renaming his band The Machines of God.[citation needed] Fans of the band were referred to as the "Ghost Children".[citation needed] An extensive online analysis of Machina discussed the relevance of David Bowie's use of alternative identities throughout his career to the concept behind the album, particularly in relation the shattered glass of the protagonist's persona. It also posited that Eastern spiritualism, Carl Jung's ideas of ego disintegration, John Lennon's solo work and Ingmar Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly all influenced the album.[10]

Corgan started recording demos in late 1998 and the band entered the studio in early 1999.


Much like previous albums, the songs were first tracked acoustically at Corgan's house in late 1998[11] before the band set to work on them at their practice space and the Chicago Recording Company. The recording was conducted with the team responsible for finishing Adore – co-producer Flood and engineers Howard Willing and Bjorn Thorsrud.

The band took a break from recording in April 1999 to embark on the Arising! tour, which took the band to nine small clubs.[citation needed] After the tour's conclusion, the bass guitarist, D'arcy Wretzky, left the band, leaving the rest of them in a difficult position. Corgan later said, "This put a stress obviously on the full integrity of the project, because it was connected to the band not only bringing the music to fruition fully, but also the public component of being in character. I ended up in a broken band with a half-ass enthusiasm towards finishing a project already started."[12]

Flood later remembered, "We decided that we were going to have to make a very different kind of record [...] we pretty much went back to the drawing board. Certain songs on the record are survivors from that first period, but it meant a shift in the ways songs had to be formed."[13]

Corgan described the new recording process for Machina, now focused more on the song development than on the concept:

In the end, the theatrical qualities of the live performances and appearances were mostly abandoned. Many of the songs on the album refer to the ending of love and relationships (both romantic and otherwise), most of them obvious references to the band themselves. Corgan described "This Time" as "my love song to the band."[15] According to Corgan, the album was structured so that the first eight tracks would be "more poppy", and the last seven "more arty." Generally, Corgan appraised the sound of the album as "a rock 'n' roll approach with pop sensibility."[16] After the electronica-influenced Adore, Machina was a return to the distorted guitar sound of previous albums, though synthesizers and acoustic guitars were still heavily used.

Marketing and release[edit]

Corgan presented Machina to Virgin Records as a double album, but the label was not interested after the disappointing sales of Adore.[17] Machina was released as a single album on February 29, 2000, with a bonus disc, Still Becoming Apart, available at certain stores.

"I of the Mourning" promotional single cover

A video was made for "Stand Inside Your Love", the planned first single, in late 1999, but at the last minute, "The Everlasting Gaze" was issued as the album's first promotional radio single in December 1999. "Stand Inside Your Love" was released as the first commercially available single on January 21, 2000. "I of the Mourning" was also released as a promotional single and received limited airplay. "Heavy Metal Machine" was issued as a promotional cassette but was not distributed to radio stations.[18]

On March 9, the band went on the Thursday edition of @MTV Week at Broadway Studios in New York City for a half-hour live TV special. During the broadcast they performed "The Everlasting Gaze" as well as "I of the Mourning" after an online and call-in voting competition between three songs from Machina. The special also featured Carson Daly interviewing the band members and online chats with the band, and an interactive online video for "The Crying Tree of Mercury."

On May 23, Corgan announced on KROQ-FM that the band would be breaking up at the end of the year.[3] The band reconvened in a studio to finish off the leftover Machina tracks, but Virgin remained uninterested, so the band released Machina II on their own in September, handing them off to fans to distribute free over the Internet.[19]

The video for the final single, "Try, Try, Try", directed by Jonas Åkerlund, was released on September 11, 2000, but did not receive much airplay due to its explicit content.[20]

Glass and The Machines of God[edit]

"GATMOG" characters bearing a resemblance to The Smashing Pumpkins' bandmembers

Although the full extent of the original concept went unrealized, the storyline of Glass was tied to the album's release and marketing. A sequence of writings, by Corgan, were released under the name "Glass and the Machines of God" starting in the CD booklet and continuing over the Internet and elsewhere.[21] Additional entries, under the name "Chards of Glass", were posted by the band while on tour.[22] Corgan challenged fans to solve the "Machina mystery" hinted at through it all, and in December 2000 posted his favorite fan interpretations.[23]

The booklet artwork, a series of paintings by Vasily Kafanov, loosely told the album's story while hinting at themes related to alchemy, chemistry, metallurgy, physics, medicine, astrology, semiotics, mysticism, spiritualism, and art.[citation needed] The album was nominated for a 2001 Grammy for Best Recording Package.[24]

In June 2001, a viral marketing campaign written by Jim Evans and Ben Allgood was launched via the Smashing Pumpkins message board, encouraging users to seek out mysterious websites and video clips. This early example of an internet-based alternate reality game eventually unveiled the news of a new online animated series by Sony based on the Machina story. Due in part to the changing circumstances surrounding the album's rollout, the series was shelved before any episodes were completed, though several portions have been leaked to YouTube.[25][26][27] In a 2010 interview, Corgan commented on the abandoned cartoon, stating, "Yeah, I think you can find a few bits and pieces, but it never got finished unfortunately. That would've at least explained what the fuck I was trying to do [laughs]. I'm not even sure now what I was trying to do. But I was trying to do something."[8]


Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[29]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[30]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[31]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[32]
Q4/5 stars[35]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[36]
The Village VoiceC+[38]

According to Metacritic, the album received generally favorable reviews, scoring 66 out of 100 based on 15 reviews.

Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times called Machina "an exceedingly impressive and hard-driving record"[30] and contended that it was the band's "masterpiece."[39]

"Machina finds the quartet back at their grunge-rocking best…" wrote Clark Collis in The Daily Telegraph. "[Corgan] seems re-energised as a writer and singer with the likes of 'Stand Inside Your Love' and 'Try Try Try' standing among their best work to date, while the lyrical refrain of the epic 'Glass and the Ghost Children' should please all those who like their rock music to be mean, moody and not a little psychotic."[40]

In Q, Paul Elliott described it as "mostly, a wonderful rock album" that was "not without its faults." "'Heavy Metal Machine' is a hokey title for a dull rock song. 'Glass and the Ghost Children' sounds like mid-'80s U2 pretending to be The Doors… Often Corgan is at his most effective when he keeps it simple… 'With Every Light' is the gentlest song on Machina, and perhaps the best."[41][28]

Many reviews were highly negative. NME criticized the album for sounding like it was made by a band that didn't love music.[33]

Commercial Reception[edit]

Machina is the second lowest-selling commercially released Pumpkins album to date, with U.S. sales of 583,000 units up to 2005.[42] Although it entered the U.S. charts at number 3, selling 165,000 copies in its first week,[43] sales declined sixty percent the second week,[44] and continued to slide. Regarding the disappointing sales, Jimmy Chamberlin commented, "It was like watching your kid flunking out of school after getting straight A's for ten years."[45] Corgan, in 2008, summarized the failures of the album:

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Billy Corgan.

1."The Everlasting Gaze"4:00
2."Raindrops + Sunshowers"4:39
3."Stand Inside Your Love"4:14
4."I of the Mourning"4:37
5."The Sacred and Profane"4:22
6."Try, Try, Try"5:09
7."Heavy Metal Machine"5:52
8."This Time"4:43
9."The Imploding Voice"4:24
10."Glass and the Ghost Children"9:56
12."The Crying Tree of Mercury"3:43
13."With Every Light"3:56
14."Blue Skies Bring Tears"5:45
15."Age of Innocence"3:55


  • Some releases — namely, European and Asian Hut Records versions, and all vinyl editions — have an added track, "Speed Kills". This is not the Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music version, but the version that appears on the "Stand Inside Your Love" single. On the international CDs, the song is edited nearly two minutes shorter than the original, and the last four tracks are resequenced. Some early promotional versions of the album have an extended version of "The Sacred and Profane" with two bars of electronic drum beat at the beginning of the song, and a slightly different mix of "Age of Innocence".


Additional musicians
  • Bill Douglass – mixing assistance
  • Flood – production, mixing
  • Vasily Kafanov – sleeve paintings and etchings
  • Tommy Lipnick – technical assistance
  • Tim "Gooch" Lougee – technical assistance
  • Jef Moll – mixing assistance
  • Alan Moulder – mixing
  • Andrew Nicholls – mixing assistance
  • Erin Piepergerdes – mixing assistance
  • Scott Schimpff – technical assistance
  • Greg Sylvester – art direction
  • Bjorn Thorsrud – recording, mixing, digital editing, compilation, additional programming
  • Howie Weinbergmastering
  • Howard C. Willing – recording, mixing
  • Thomas Wolfe – art direction
  • Yelena Yemchuk – art direction
  • Mike Zainer – mixing assistant



Year Chart Position
2000 Australian Album Chart[47] 2
Top Canadian Albums[citation needed] 2
Billboard 200[43] 3
German Album Charts[48] 4
New Zealand Album Chart[citation needed] 4
UK Album Chart 7[49]
Danish Album Chart[citation needed] 16


Year Single Chart Position
1999 "The Everlasting Gaze" Modern Rock Tracks[citation needed] 4
Mainstream Rock Tracks[citation needed] 14
2000 "Stand Inside Your Love" Modern Rock Tracks[citation needed] 2
Mainstream Rock Tracks[citation needed] 11
UK Singles Chart 23[49]
Australian Singles Chart[citation needed] 32
"Try, Try, Try" UK Singles Chart 73[49]


The album is scheduled to be reissued sometime in 2018 or 2019, this time resequenced as a double album with the Machina II material as was originally envisioned. The original co-producer Flood will be involved with a complete remix of all the material and sequencing into its original order as a two-disc concept album.[50] He further explained that part of the restored concept album will be a suite simulating a live Machines of God concert, possibly with crowd noise added, with a mix inspired by Kiss' Alive!.[51]

From July 2015, the reissue's release was put on permanent hold due to legal troubles with the record label. Corgan has said he has spent a lot of time on this and wants it to be released, but the legal issues need to be resolved first.[52] In August 2018, Billy answered an Instagram Q&A about this. The question was "Will the Machina reissue ever see the light of day?" He answered "Just signed legal settlement today on that. So yes". Corgan announced in later Q&A's that the reissue will feature completely new artwork and will not reuse any of the original Machina artwork.


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  40. ^ The Daily Telegraph, February 26, 2000
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  43. ^ a b Martens, Todd. "Dixie Chicks Return 'Home' to No. 1". February 5, 2003.
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  52. ^ ""