Seaworthy

Jetset

Josh McKay should expect to hear from the lawyers any day now. His new project shares a name with that of a couple of unimaginative Sydney lads who have been playing together since 1999 and seriously need to pry Music for Airports out of the Discman. On the other hand, by the time the Aussies have hoarded their dollars from their video-store jobs and assembled a legal team, McKay will be on to his third band—or his fourth. The Macha frontman has about a half-dozen of them lined up in his head. Unfortunately, the execution doesn’t always come off without a hitch. One of indie rock’s few true masters of cultural hybridization, the Athens, Ga.-based McKay originally intended The Ride to be recorded with musicians he’d met at a quinquennial Bulgarian folk festival. But 40 minutes of DAT didn’t make it home safely and he had to rerecord, using largely homegrown talent. The band (really a one-man project with lots of appearances by friends and guests) has made a disc worthy of its watery moniker. “Open the Gates”‘s tremolo guitar sways through the swells, percussive foam breaking on its bow. Also an instrumental, “Sea Manta” phase-glides a few fathoms down, subject to a nearly subsonic undertow. As you might guess, it doesn’t sound very Eastern European; the pinging, shimmering gamelan sounds that distinguished Macha albums are still present, but they’re frequently pushed toward the background. McKay’s main interests are textural—he grooves on density, depth, and their metamorphoses—so the album’s more songlike tracks featuring vocals find him losing his way. “Lone Star Samba” lacks only a few squirts of patented Ira guitar jizz to be a Yo La Tengo outtake. And “The Ride Pt. 1” sounds as if Kevin Shields thought his writer’s block—or is that producer’s block?—would lift if he attempted to write on piano. But if The Ride isn’t quite Loveless, it’s not quite not hopeless, either. It took Macha at least a long-player to warm up, and unlike Shields, McKay seems to have learned that sometimes you make the album you aren’t aiming for to get to the one you are. —Glenn Dixon

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