An excursion into the funk-rock universe, Circus Mind’s Joy Machine feels like a party. Signature licks – lengthy ones, sometimes – -form the basis of this inviting and energetic release. In the pandemic era, recording individual components in isolation is a given, and people were dong it that way even before COVID. The problem come in when it sounds like it, when the sonics betray the disconnectedness of the enterprise. You won’t find any of that here; though Joy Machine was indeed cut in that manner, the ensemble led by Mark Rechler sounds and feels as if it’s all in room together.
The title track sounds like an unreleased Sly and the Family Stone cut, and features searing lead guitar work by guest player Scott Metzger (of Joe Russo’s Still Dead). In fact guests are all over this album; the credits read like a hip-hop joint, save for the fact that these guests are players. Nels Cline, Mac Ribot and Brandon “Taz” Niederauer are on hand variously throughout the record. And they’re full integrated; not slathered on top; guests they may be, but their work fits seamlessly into the mix.
Truth in labeling: Circus Mind’s Joy Machine is an enjoyable and engaging listen, start to finish.