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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Between Nothingness & Eternity  CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.70 | 152 ratings

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3 stars Halfway through... nothingness and ...eternity!

As far as I am concerned, the title is representative of the musical quality here. There are definitely moments of NOTHINGNESS (e.g. unconditional improvisation that often leads to long, tiring compositions) and there are moments of ETERNITY (e.g. really inspired musical ideas that build exceptionally interesting and novel fusion passages).

The first and only live CD of the band consists of 3 relatively long compositions; the two longest ones are composed by John McLaughlin (Trilogy and Dream) and the middle one by Jan Hammer (Sister Andrea). All compositions are new and could have easily been part of a studio album; although BN&E is a live album, it could be treated as a studio one but for the excessive improvisation...

Surprisingly, bearing in mind the year is 1973, the sound is crystal clear, the instruments are clearly distinguished and produce bright and shiny ''noises''. It is not really needed to comment on the technical skills of the musicians - history speaks for them. In terms of structure, the most loosely composed track is Dream where the individual skills of the band's members appear within the 21 long minutes... the longest a single rhythm section tune stays the same should be about 4 minutes - the session 9th-13th minute - and that is probably the most interesting part. Although there is a violin/keyboard-based jazzy start, McLaughlin's playing is dominant without leaving enough space for the others to evolve in the track after the 7th minute.

The other McLaughlin composition here, Trilogy, is based on a distinctive guitar-keyboard tune and is more down-to-earth (!) mainly because it flows on a relatively 'relaxed' rhythm section at least for the 3-4 first minutes. It gradually builds up and turns to a heavy fusion dynamite after the 6th minute with loads of virtuosic passages and lots of interchanging soloing between instruments. On the contrary, Sister Andrea shows some funky/blues elements and the compositional approach is somewhat different. Most of the track is based on a medium tempo before derailing completely after the 7th minute...

Presumably, fans of instrumental jazz/fusion that is based on improvisation will appreciate this record. I would probably not recommend that for a prog fan relatively unfamiliar with the genre (including myself) that wishes to make a start on jazz/fusion, but most of the listeners will find lots of boring and, at the same time, interesting pieces of music here.

I still think this album is midway through zenith and nadir, thus 2.5-3 stars.

aapatsos | 3/5 |


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