Outhouse Music 2021
Funky junkies and sonic jokers outta New York radiate their irreverent merriment across the borders.
It takes a lot of guts to take a leaf out of George Clinton’s book and get away with it, but that’s what Mark Rechler’s troupe have been doing for two decades now. Weirdly and sadly – here are the two words which can share a single context only in this collective’s vocabulary – “Joy Machine” is only their third album, released in the wild fifteen years after “Silver Flower” to shake, rattle and roll through the pandemic gloom. But when, if not now, the world needs such multicolored and positively unhinged craziness? So, using their record as a vehicle of moving people’s mood to where the action and fun displace sore spots and featuring a few respectable guests, the Big Apple players spread light and laughter all around – to a fantastic effect.
Yet if the vertiginous swirl of opener “Are You Ready?” sticks its voodoo sermon to a serrated riff and scintillating ivories, before Brandon Niederauer’s six strings chime in with a mesmerizing solo, the teenage guitarist returning on “Airwaves” to muscularly enhance the piece’s percussion-peppered punch, the finale of “Troubled Times” wraps up the period drama in a brass-washed spiritual rapture. And while the ’60s-smelling psychedelia spices up the album’s spaced-out title track with its ever-shifting rhythm to run from organ-soiled jive to a crystal-clear, blues-infused lyricism, and single “Jazzfest Time” that has Ivan Neville at the fore, alongside Rechler, “Longing Song” will find the ensemble drenched in balladry which Nels Cline’ fluid lines help elevate.
Still, nothing here can rival “Mean Mutha Fucka” in terms of sheer soulfulness and vigor, as Max Newman’s flaming licks kick the heat of Mark’s voice and socially charged ire higher and higher, or instrumental “Nutbag” in terms of elegance in whose vibrant brilliance Marc Ribot’s part is quite prominent. Perhaps, “Errand Boy” sounds too Lennonesque to let babies cry, but its patinated vaudeville slant won’t fail to charm any cynic, and the slider-caressed “Three Muses” shuffles in style graciously enough to bring a smile on the longest of faces. And that’s exactly what we need right now: the joy machine to make us happy – this vehicle of exhilaration.