The Mahavishnu Orchestra
The Inner Mounting Flame
Meeting of the Spirits begins this wonderfully fruity album with a ferociously jazzical jam over a busy backdrop of pure rhythmic class. The major melodies are so thrown about that most of us would find it a bit overpowering, and so it's best to listen to the rhythm section ,admire the flow, and just let the crazy melody swirl around like a rubber duck. It's more fun that way. The general power of the music is one of talent and non reductionist glamour that makes everything shine like it was meant to be for the gods.
A second track turns the guitar into the main instrument, and the band play around with some slower rhythms to keep the album flowing nicely. It brings out a rock n roll side to the sound which makes a tangent fro the original opening sound, although the way it is formulated rings true in the psychedelia way. Something more experimental takes the third spot, The Noonward Race being a mix of bass and drum with some manic melodic sprays from a violin and guitar. It does sound like running, and perhaps with a countryside setting as bushes and hedges meander by at the pace of a few jogging men in wellys.
The jazz edge is crafted again, within the realms of some sound effects and instrument sounds that push the barriers to what fits to music even today. The decision to test the synthesiser in this way has made a really interesting time snippet as to what was doable in the days of dials and peddles. Mostly everything can be done on a computer these days. Amazing guitar soloing ricochets from the pounding drumming of Billy Cobharn. His expert handling of the entire kit means the language of percussion speaks in expert sentences. John Mclaughlin has earned the name tag on the later recordings of this album through his virtuoso guitar fame, but the rest of the band which make up the Mahavishnu Orchestra really ought to be represented on equal terms.
Jan Hammer makes an emotive pianist, with ample ability to flesh out the sombre moments with fun and tuneful additions. The keys don't always make up the main body of the sound, sometimes they're simply assisting the drums, but in every instance of their flowering they produce a rewarding array of moments. Jerry Goodman on the violin drips the music from the strings like it was melting butter, his notes have no need for artistic licence as the training behind the hands shows determination for perfection. Somewhere in the background, the steady hand of Rick Laird plucks away as the resonant and finely mixed bass, in many cases it sounds like a double bass, and in others its a tightly played funky lick that gives everything else something to sound great against.
The Inner Mounting Flame is a monumental album, simmering with musical indulgence. A fun and maximum effect set of tracks worm their way through the realms of some mysterious jazz infused universe where sometimes not all the notes come from the same family. The city centre on a hot afternoon sensation that comes from this diversity of harmony and melody brings a necessity to give the whole sound our attention rather than listening for the little bits to prick our ears. We wont find them until we let go and swallow the entire thing.
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