Michael Kucyk’s voyage into outsider music takes another turn in this disarmingly charming reissue from Joe Tossini & Friends and the fruits of a new label set up between the artist himself and Kucyk’s Efficient Space imprint. It’s heartening given the intensely personal nature of this record – music as therapy partially – that the artist is engaged and set to benefit fully from the interest in it.
It might be easy to dismiss this record as nothing more than a whimsical curio without some further consideration into the nature of its creation. Sure, the music all feels very ‘now’, a louche, untutored, lounge-funk. But it’s Joe’s voice that catches you unawares. There’s a level of openness and a humanity you very rarely get with recorded music – the listener is almost eavesdropping. This is singing stripped back of trickery, production gloss and lyrically straight from the heart, with no filter.
In the accompanying notes Kucyk (presumably) euphemistically describes its initial release as “underperforming commercially” which seems slightly heartbreaking. However, Tossini turned to music after life dealt him a number of low blows and the act of creation as therapy would appear to be much of the creative impetus here. And Joe is still working in music and literature – we hope this therapy did the job. The parallels between “high” and “outsider” art are clear – both value the process as much as the product, although the drivers are very different.
Joe isn’t a complete naif though – there’s a good natured sense of humour at play here. Rather than wallow he turned his depression into something airy, feather-light and hopeful. And for those also feeling a little lost, Joe has shared some of his hard-won wisdom in the shape of these rules for life. In our confused and anxious times they make as much sense as anything
‘Lady of Mine’ is released on JTM on the 14th February