Music can attack in a myriad of ways. Sometimes it can lay claim to your soft brain. Other times, it hits you in the sternum, or kicks you in the backside and wriggles your hips. Music can move your intellect. Your heart. And sometimes, it can move everything in-between.
If any of this is true, then the Break Mechanics are hitting on all facets of feeling. A Denver-based hip hop outfit, the Break Mechanics are a cautious alchemy of funk and jazz. And while they pull from the entire spectrum of musical styles, the Mechanics have remained true to their roots. As KRS-1 said, “THIS is hip hop.”
Where some acts are spinning turntables to sustain their rhythm section, the Break Mechanics’ backbone is a trio of unimaginably talented bass guitar, drums and keyboard players.
The band’s founders, drummer Daren Hahn (Ani DiFranco, The Eels, Geggy Tah, The Reals, Melissa Ferrick, Matt Nathanson, Weapon of Choice, Psychodelic Zombiez), and bassist Casey Sidwell (Future Jazz Project, The Fray) are veteran musicians. Coupled with Greg Raymond’s (The Motet, One Flight Up, Dragonfly) soulful keys and the rhyme and verse of Emcee P.A.A.S. (Future Jazz Project, Voodoo Economics) and Emcee Lo, the Break Mechanics are a tight and formidable musical unit.
Tracks like “Serious Inquiries”, or “Calling All Cars” off their debut, self-titled album illustrate the most astonishing elements of the Mechanics’ taut groove of stop and go, break and ride. “Sun Still Rise” showcases MC P.A.A.S.’s often politically-charged lyrics. “Zen, Zen” features a guest performance by Ani DiFranco. And while the Mechanics have carved a groove with their inimitable sound, there is a potpourri of variation. “Just Like Chocolate” is blessed with Lady Speech’s clever spoken wordplay. And rounding it all out is the “Interlude” – a rousing demonstration of the band’s vast musical landscape.
Since their creation 3 years ago, the Break Mechanics have gathered a steady following in Denver. And with a healthy mix of underground hip-hop acts in town, the Mechanics have surfaced as a crew with integrity.
And this has been substantiated by the fact that they have been afforded to play with the national acts, Blackalicious, Slick Rick and KRS-1.
But none of this has changed the experienced musicians. Speaking about his experience in the music industry Hahn said, “All that image stuff, I haven’t had to deal with that much. And, maybe I’m a little less jaded than other musicians.” Contrary to a myriad of their contemporaries, the players in the Break Mechanics haven’t burned-out in their long residencies in the industry. To the contrary, for them it has been a joy – to work and subsist off the industry. “I’ve been lucky,” Hahn said “to play with the artists that I have.”
In the end, the Mechanics are constituted with a simple formula in mind: Music and community. And with regard to Denver’s slowly bourgeoning hip-hop scene, and the Mechanics’ firm belief in the importance of a strong community, Hahn seemed unconcerned – as if everything will work itself out. “I think that people with similar beliefs naturally gravitate together.”
Having held regular seats at the Purple Martini and the Blue Mule in the past, you can now catch the Break Mechanics live, every Sunday night, at their new home, Herb’s (2057 Larimer St.).
Go to the Mechanics’ site to purchase their album and stay in-touch with a Denver crew that is sure to create more beats, rhymes and headlines in the near-future: www.breakmechanics.com