Review: Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics ‘Bite Of The Street’

Mac Gollehon has done session work for some pretty major artists including Blondie, David Bowie, Chic, Grace Jones, Duran Duran, Billy Ocean to name a few. My first exposure to him was via his collaboration with Gridfailure (Dave Brenner) on 2021’s Dismemberment Cabaret and then 2022’s The End is the Beginning; both of which I had the honour of reviewing, the latter making the number one spot in my Shaman Top Ten that year.

Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics 'Bite Of The Street' Artwork
Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics ‘Bite Of The Street’ Artwork

So, 2023 has hit and Mac is as prolific as ever releasing a brand new album, this time with The Hispanic Mechanics, the project’s second following 2016’s self-titled debut. The record features Gollehon on trumpet, keyboard, scat and vocals as well as Eric Klaastad on bass, Jeanne Carno on drums and Ismael Sanchez performing additional percussion. Interestingly this latest effort was recorded before the pandemic.

Souled Out features an appearance by the aforementioned Gridfailure doing what he does best, providing sound effects and collages. The track is an up-tempo fun piece and offers us a much looser celebratory atmosphere when compared with his darker output of recent years. A Latin vibe permeates throughout and has the kind of atmosphere one might find in Brazil around the carnival season. Simply superb.

Maczone continues the party with a dance music orientated sound, so imagine if you can Miles Davis’ reworked for a Ministry of Sound compilation. This may potentially seem like an aural nightmare and the kind Sketches of Spain of thing you may find playing at Ibiza’s many clubs to well imbibed punters, but it is in fact incredibly well crafted. The music may have a fast-paced beat but it’s not obnoxiously distracting, instead allowing Mac‘s trumpet plenty of room to shine and showcase his skills.

Bite Of The Street, the album’s longest number at over seven minutes, starts slowly but once those grooves start hitting, man do they sound good, positively infectious! If you were around in the ‘80s and remember the Miami Sound Machine then this will bring a wave of nostalgia flooding back your way. However, that does seem a rather insufficient, shallow and inadequate interpretation of what is an incredibly progressive and intelligently crafted track. It takes you on a multifaceted musical sonic journey and one deserving of regular repeated listens.

A Latin vibe permeates throughout and has the kind of atmosphere one might find in Brazil around the carnival season…

Fusion’s back! That’s the impression you get when listening to Coming At You what with its Jaco Pastorious basslines running alongside portentous keys and cool mambo style rhythms. It’s like Gollehon and his bandmates compiled and drew upon all the best elements of the ‘big 3’ of fusion (Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever), it’s that good.

High Drama has shades of being akin to a Lalo Schifrin score with the title an indicator that it could easily have featured in the Dirty Harry film series. The music contains both a sense of tension and effortless cool that a lot of early ‘70s soundtracks were in possession of and in the immortal words of Harry Callahan, ‘do you feel lucky?’, well you should, listening as you are to both this wonderful track and album.

Sleepwalker is quite a rocker when it starts off taking you into classic Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin territory with its cool amplified blues goodness. The track then descends into a chaotic Ornette Coleman/John Zorn free jazz maelstrom bringing the whole album to a brilliantly thrilling conclusion.

Mac Gollehon has the Midas touch and therefore I wasn’t surprised to find I loved the record as much as I did, my only complaint is it wasn’t longer. An end of year top ten surety.

Label: Nefarious Industries
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Scribed by: Reza Mills