Jphono1: Rectify Mercy | ★★★½ Potluck Foundation; Jan. 7

Rectify Mercy album release show | Cat’s Cradle Back Room | Saturday, Feb. 5

What is an ordinary response to extraordinary events? When there is no horizon, no time or distance—only static continuity—what is the proper recourse?

For working musicians who make their living on the road, the pandemic has been a significant blow to their livelihood. In response, many have turned to songwriting, doing studio work, or sharing demos and overdubs back and forth, turning a fallow period into one of fruitful output.

Rectify Mercy, a collection of compact psych-rock gems released on January 7, is the latest album to feature the musicians and frequent artistic collaborators associated with Potluck Foundation, the Triangle-based independent label and artists’ collective behind BANGZZ, Bleeder, Matt Southern, and Analog Mountains.

John Harrison, one of the label’s founders, is the main creative force behind Jphono1. Even though the act is just one of his many musical projects, Rectify Mercy is his fourth release in two years.

Harrison’s latest is a return to the jams found on 2021’s Parliament. Some of its atmospheric, dream-pop guitar runs and Byrds-esque harmonies might sound at home on the soundtrack to a modern-day remake of Easy Rider. Desert winds whipping up against the Stars and Stripes–painted fuel tank of a California chopper, reverb and voices soaring in a montage of rapidly lost horizons.

On Rectify Mercy, Harrison is joined by frequent collaborators Jimmy Thompson (Brice Randall Brickford, North Elementary) and John Crouch (Caltrop, Solar Halos, Kerbloki) on bass and percussion.

Following its propulsive opener, the album’s first side becomes progressively slower and more trancelike, a trend that culminates in the album’s centerpiece, “You Are a Kingdom,” a paean to hope in the midst of turmoil. The album closes in a run that is at turns twangy or droning, with guitars, unique effect manipulations, and the ambient padding of guest harmonies: the final highway sign.

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