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Mysteries of the Revolution: Mysteries of the Revolution

Revolution? What revolution?? Take one look at this album's artwork - it doesn't lie.

Transport yourself back 40 years. You're a musician that loves modern jazz, the artists beginning to fuse it with psychedelia and rock, Hancock and others. Get yourself into a studio with a Hammond and some other electronic keyboards, a flute, a bass, some drums and some percussive instruments. The album you come up with is Mysteries of the Revolution. If there was a revolution, then it was that revolution - I would say that is a strong word, evolution is probably better - that affected jazz in the 1960s. Mysteries of the Revolution is an album of instrumental rock-influenced jazz that is set firmly in that era. However, reader beware, this is not a jazz-rock album - the lack of guitar means you don't get the bite of much jazz-rock; this is principally a late 60s/early 70s jazz album that has had a small sprinkling of "rock-dust" floating over it. Whilst up to date modern recording techniques make a track like "Evolution", with its twittering birds and other natural sounds, easily possible, this does remain a "retro" album.

On the album, UK-based Mysteries of the Revolution are constituted by its leader BB Davis (drums, flute, percussion, beatvox drums, vocalisation), Dan Biro (keyboards, percussion) and Mark Smith (bass). I heard some multi-layering of keyboards in particular on the album, possibly explaining why they add a guitarist to beef up the sound when they play live.

Despite the "vocalisation" credit to Davis, you should treat this as an instrumental album. There's a little Zappaesque-Joe's-Garage monologue during "Moonfrog's Tucker" (despite the call to Zappa both as an influence and evocatively on this track I didn't sense much else of Zappa coming through in the music - but I say that as a Zappa non-completist!) and some vocalisation with vocal staccato rhythm making on "Big Buddah", but this is instrumental music through and through.

So how good is this album of retro, rock-influenced, keyboard-led jazz? Well, it's good but it's not going to blow many people away, certainly on disc this music may lose some of the verve that it may have live. There are elements of experimentation - or more strictly of psychedelia influence - coming through occasionally but in general the soundscape is very musical. The sonority of the keyboards dominates the sound in general, rather than the rhythm or groove. The music works best when the tempo is raised, which thankfully it usually is, there being a particular slowdown during the final couple of songs.

"Nico" and "Romantica", flavoured with grand piano and vibraphones respectively, were my pick of the bunch; these probably being the most straightforward jazz-rock numbers with the most pleasing rhythmic structures. Elsewhere I noted something that I've not really felt before on albums influenced by this particular period's music (maybe I've been lucky): some of the music did actually sound "dated" and this was to its detriment. The best current bands can take the same period influence and still make it sound fresh, something that didn't always happen on this album.

Track Listing:-
1) Welcome (1:54)
2) The Crunch (10:16)
3) Storius Sensorius (5:58)
4) The Elevation of Mr Handy (5:54)
5) Moonfrog's Tucker (3:09)
6) Nico (5:28)
7) Secret Fire (5:34)
8) Romantica (9:57)
9) Big Buddah (3:33)
10) Have You Seen Enough (8:36)
11) Evolution (3:39)

Added: February 25th 2009
Reviewer: Alex Torres
Related Link: Band's website
Hits: 1981
Language: english

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