Named, I assume, after a phrase coined by the Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle to describe aspects of the mind-body relationship, The Ghost and the Machine was formed in 2014 by Andi Lechner, who plays, predominately, Resonator guitars, and Heidi Fial, a multi-instrumentalist, specialising in the double bass. They expanded to a trio in 2016 with the recruitment of drummer Matthias Macht. Their self-titled debut album was released in May 2016 and they categorise themselves as “post blues’. Blues is certainly the basis for all of the music on this new release, although their take on the genre is fairly unique. The nearest comparison I can give is if you took Nigel Kennedy’s The Kennedy Experience album but with non-Hendrix songs, drums and vocals then we are getting close! Incidentally, that recording is a fascinating tribute to Jimi that had an acoustic guitar and obviously a violin, it’s genuinely very, very good. Their new album, Red Rain Tires is out now and is a match for Mr Kennedy.
‘Falling’ nearly sounds like Floyd’s Money but very quickly changes into a quite lovely bluesy song with the resonator to the fore and that upright bass sounding great. ‘Blue Day/Yellow City’ is sheer genius even if it does sound like Dennis Dunaway guests on bass. It also reminds me of said Kennedy’s take on Third Stone… The harmony vocals are effective and the backing flawless. The single, ‘Caroline’ starts with a slow, almost field song beat and develops into a back-porch blues that delights, especially with the brilliantly sparse electric solo. ‘Passengers and Slaves’ will test the capabilities of your speakers with the gorgeous bass from Heidi and the slide guitar is equal to it, as it echoes the work songs of the 30s. ‘Wrecks of Innocence’ finishes the album with the resonator sounding exactly the way it should… you can hear every string vibrate and the bottleneck rattle. It’s almost orchestral in its complexity– no mean feat for three people.
This is a surprisingly accessible, engaging and enjoyable album even if it will not quite fit comfortably into many people’s pigeonholes. It is one I will return to regularly simply because it is different and yet still embodies blues and rock. Thanks to crystal clear production you can hear every note on every instrument, which adds to the enjoyment.