review = b+
Sometimes less is more. Case in point: -Rhythm Rail-, the fifth independently produced CD from Mecca Bodega. Unlike their previous release, -Live-, which attempted to stuff MB’s wide range of multidimensional, musical styles into one album, the Bodega focuses exclusively this time out on the richly textured, acoustic exotica element of their sound. The results are dazzling. Taking listeners on an old world spice trail marked by hammered dulcimers, flutes, and acoustic guitars, all swirling gently to the pulsing beat of hand drums, -Rhythm Rail- is an effective mood piece. Don’t call it ‘new age’ though. Sure, MB’s understated harmonic elegance lulls the mind’s ear into a state of relaxation, but there’s an underlying urgency to their meditative soundscapes as well. Way too much melodic expression and emotion -behind- the music to be mistaken for background muzak. Anchored by brothers Paul and Marc Mueller, both drummers, bassist Kevin Huppert, and Marlon Cherry on guitar, the New York City based MB has been balancing their percussion heavy instrumental jams with more traditional, ‘song based’ material for years. In the process, they’ve built a loyal fanbase. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Ironically though, by taking a narrower scope than past recordings, -Rhythm Rail- will appeal to a much wider listening audience. -Including- longtime fans, who are gonna love the unadulterated dose of Mecca Bodega’s deeply spiritual, percussive grooves.