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Machine Translations is the performing name of Greg James Walker, an Australian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist; who is also a producer as J Walker. Walker started out recording all instruments himself in a home studio, he later branched out to include a band. Machine Translations' songs vary between simple guitar melodies and complex works with unusual instruments—a spectrum from pop to art. Since 1997 he has released several albums. In 2001 he toured the United States supporting Dirty Three.
Greg James Walker, who works as J Walker or Machine Translations, was raised in Canberra. By 1985 Walker, on keyboards, was a member of local psychedelic band, Moon, with Paul Davies on bass guitar and lead vocals; Chris Freney on guitar; and Ralph Rehak on drums. Kathryn Whitfield of Pulse caught their performance in May 1986: "their lighting effects are reminiscent of the sixties oil lights with a kaleidoscope of coloured lights floating across the stage". In 2003 Walker recalled "[he] played in a succession of 'funny little Canberra bands'".
By July 1995 Walker was working in a home studio in his garden shed. Under the name Shed Method he issued a cassette album, Machine Translations, which included the track "Jezebel". Nick Enfield of The Canberra Times described the album as "an eclectic mix of his unique array of original sounds". Walker had been recording for over ten years making his own demos and producing other local artists. His lo-fi approach included using traditional instruments: drums, guitars and keyboards; together with less conventional ones: broken piano (its front removed and strings played directly), oud, and electric erhu. His influences were John Cale, Nico and Tom Waits while also "listening to a lot of belly-dancing music lately, as well as Chinese classical music, and Indian music". One of Walker's associates on the album was Kevin White.
Walker was also a member of P. Harness, which Enfield opined were "madcap ocker goons", with Geoff Hinchcliffe on guitar and lead vocals; and Mikel Simic on drums and lead vocals. By August 1995 they released their second album, @ction. Simic described its underlying theme: "all the songs are specifically about eating, [or] they've got food references through them". In October that year Walker and White supplied the music for a stage play, The Fortress, at Studio One, Braddon. Walker completed his tertiary studies in Shanghai with a degree in Linguistics and Mandarin Chinese. He also lived in India "absorbing musical influences".
Upon return to Australia Walker continued his musical career living near Wollongong. His album, Abstract Poverty, was released in 1997 on the Way Over There label. Hans Uhad of Stylus Magazine felt it showed a "juxtaposition of slow burning, moody, Codeine-like numbers with deft, mildly psychotic stabs at fusing traditional Celtic music with his own burnt version of Americana and flamenco". One of the tracks, "Jezebel", was a re-recorded version of his earlier work as Shed Method. Machine Translations' second album, Halo, appeared in the following year on Way Over There and was distributed by Shock Records. White provided clarinet for the album.
His next album on Way Over There was Holiday in Spain which was released in 1999. Kelsey Munro of The Sydney Morning Herald felt the album was a "criminally ignored underground classic". Comes with a SmileTemplate:'s Matt Dornan noted there is "no disguising the homemade feel of both music and sparse packaging, but there's certainly a twisted core to this antipodean walkabout through sonic pastures new". Walker co-produced the album with Kimmo Vennon, he also used guest vocalists including Kirsty Stegwazi. Walker had provided guitar on tracks for Stegwazi's solo album, Keep Still (1999). In 2000 Walker moved to Melbourne, where he worked on his next album, Bad Shapes (2001).
- Abstract Poverty (1997)
- Halo (1998)
- Holiday in Spain (1999)
- Bad Shapes (2001)
- Happy (2002)
- Venus Traps Fly (2004)
- Seven Seven (2007)
- The Bright Door (2013)
- Love on the Vine (2003)
- Wolf on a String (2005)
- "'Abstract Poverty' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). http://www.apra-amcos.com.au/worksearch.axd?q=Abstract%20Poverty. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Zuel, Bernard (2 July 2004). "The Shape of Things to Come". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/01/1088488087843.html. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Macgregor, Jody. "Machine Translations Biography". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/machine-translations-mn0000441920. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Whitfield, Kathryn (May 1986). "Over the Top with Moon". Pulse (Canberra Musicians). Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/47429/20100609-1544/www.canberramusicians.com/moon.html. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Munro, Kelsey (17 April 2003). "All in the Translation". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/16/1050172646378.html. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Enfield, Nick (13 July 1995). "Good Times: Greg's Unique Array of Sounds". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (National Library of Australia): p. 26. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128287205. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- "'Jezebel' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). http://www.apra-amcos.com.au/worksearch.axd?q=Jezebel. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Enfield, Nick (17 August 1995). "Good Times Music CD @ction at Last". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (National Library of Australia): p. 25. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article130558107. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- "The Fortress". AusStage. http://www.ausstage.edu.au/pages/event/26443. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Hennessy, Kate (12 November 2013). "Machine Translations: 'Follow Your Nose'". Mess+Noise (Danny Bos, Kristy Milliken). http://www.messandnoise.com/articles/4626638. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Machine Translations (1997), Abstract Poverty, Way Over There. National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/28021385, retrieved 25 December 2013
- Uhad, Hans (1 September 2003). "Machine Translations – Bad Shapes – Review". Stylus Magazine (Todd Burns). http://www.stylusmagazine.com/reviews/machine-translations/bad-shapes.htm. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Template:Cite AV media notes
- Dornan, Matt (Autumn 2000). "Review: Machine Translations | Holiday in Spain (Way Over There". Comes with a Smile (Mark Venn) (6). http://cwas.hinah.com/review/?id=195. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Machine Translations (1999), Holiday in Spain, Way Over There Recordings: BMG Music, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/6484712, retrieved 25 December 2013