Eventually, I guess trumpet players just get used to playing second mason, and the title of the first song “No More Drama” should give you an idea of Mac Gollehon’s personality, or disposition, at work here. In this age of emcees, when we often get a laundry list of people’s personal problems in what purport as “lyrics,” Gollehon and the Hispanic Mechanics hone in on another channel entirely — sometimes tender and sometimes twisted — but nary stopping the groove the whole ride through.
At 6:54, “Exito Obscuridad” plays primarily for trumpet enthusiasts, being as it is basically one long solo and so not one for galvanizing our concepts of song structure, but one interesting flare happens at the 2:28 mark, and then again at four and a half. The action ebbs a bit, which had previously been just Gollehon wailing away over a pedestrian salsa beat, and the guitar makes a sound a couple times in a little rhythm that really leaves a mark, a sound which I’d never heard before (which according to Gollehon is just a wah-wah pedal played through the sound board). Additionally, the track isn’t helped by the cheesy Gloria Estefan type moog which opens it, but Gollehon does more than offset this with his playing, and the number settles into loungy gravitation.
Then ironically, to open track four “Dale Jamon,” Gollehon coaxes from his trumpet this inimitable, piercing thin whine very akin to that “fiesta” synth we heard just the song prior, and the effect is just the opposite — it’s exciting, and confusing in a way, a veritable apocalyptic squall flanked by guitar feedback mocking TV static. The trumpet is non-melodic, if not necessarily atonal, and the braced, screeching takeoff leads into an actual human vocal (something which doesn’t happen on every song), a woman exhibiting a certain melancholy, even if it is perhaps a forced melancholy. Once the caterwaul dies away and the singer is left more in the fore, then “Dale Jamon” morphs oddly into a sort of salsa-pop.
“Il Aceite,” track five, makes the first use on the whole album of actual live rock drums (juxtaposed with the bongos on tracks two and four, and the programmed beats on one and three), and electric guitar chords even blanket the unorthodox time signature for the wordless chorus. All the while, Gollehon is running roughshod over our eardrums with some of the most ridiculous trumpet soloing you’ve ever heard in your life — it makes you temporarily glad that the group aren’t going for armageddon conceptualism, and are just rocking. More of this free-feeling garage-y groove on the album would have been nice, but we know, this type of thing doesn’t grow on trees.
If “Il Aceite” is the album’s brief foray into rock, then “Elegancia” is the culminating stew, the musical “everything bagel” that tears any theory of cohesive project strategy asunder. The band is back to no vocals, which is by and large a successful tactic for them, but “Elegancia” unfurls boasting some sort of recorded police message, amidst trumpet madness that somewhat comes to mind the Stooges‘ expressionist album closeur “LA Blues.” We’re back to programmed drums at this point, which manage to sound hella funky complete with a treated kick galloping into oblivion very much in the spirit of those late-’90’s DJ scratches (used sparingly, thank God).
Signifying how “Elegancia” stands as a certain bookend of the album, before we get into the remixes, it does further the Hispanic Mechanics‘ overall penchant for not hiding behind salsa, but rather seeming to hoist salsa’s dead corpse before the audience as if to say, We got everything we needed out of it, but now we’re running away. Like I said, “Elegancia” is EDM funk, hauntingly non-melodic but big, the funky bass almost as important as Gollehon’s horn. As for the remixes section, the fun abounds through unorthodox styles, scales, mindsets and pretty much whatever else you could think of — but when the band reverts back to the salsa drums on the finale, boredom sets in and you long for more of that conceptual twisted tea you’d tasted on tracks before, like the dissonant “Elegancia” and the spooky and ethereal “No More Drama Drama (Touchy Feely Remix).” But again, we know this stuff doesn’t grow on trees. Heck, it took Gollehon 40-odd years to finally come out with a solo album, but rest assured it’s a journey the end of which no one, you included, will ever view music the same.