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Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Inner Mounting Flame CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.27 | 890 ratings

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5 stars This first outing by Mahavishnu Orchestra features what is now considered the classic, albeit short-lived line-up of John McLaughlin on guitar, Jerry Goldman on violin, Jan Hammer on piano, Rick Laird on bass, and Billy Cobham on drums. The opening track, Meeting of the Spirits, kicks off with a fanfare, followed by a short calm which builds up to an explosion of sound, which is pretty much unrelenting for the next five minutes. This album is not so much jazz-rock fusion as it is jazz metal fusion. Not only is this band one of the most intense I have ever heard, this album is one of the most intense as well. McLaughlin found a lot of like-minded players who had the ability to deliver. The following track, Dawn, starts slow and peaceful, as is fitting for the mood of a sunrise. This is not to last, however, and high-energy jamming takes the stage once again. Noonward Rage fits its title and doesn't even pretend to have any mellowness to it - the track starts strong and hard and never ever lets up, even though there are plenty of breaks, making a uniquely complicated piece. Following, A Lotus on Irish Streams, does provide a more quiet balance, but even here you find rapid runs, mostly from McLaughlin on acoustic guitar, overlying a pretty melody. Again, the next track, Vital Transformation, overcomes any attempt at peacefulness and rages for more than seven minutes, with a few slower breaks thrown in. Both The Dance of Maya and You Know, You Know slow things down. The first of these two begins slow and somewhat sinister, and builds in intensity, even slipping into a shuffle for a brief period. This build up is quite subtle, and I only noticed it at first when the piece returned to a reprise of its first section. Bursts of sharp blasts break into the calmness of the second. Awakening closes the set with more raging speed and energy.

Solos by McLaughlin, Goodman, and Hammer intertwine throughout the recording, and sometimes it is difficult to determine who is doing what. All three exhibit mastery over their instruments. This is not to say that Laird or Cobham don't have it either, because they do in spades. Laird seems to be the least celebrated of the group, but he not only holds down the bottom end, he wails along with the rest of them. Cobham is given a few breaks to provide short solos.

The album is a milestone in fusion music, and anybody interested in the genre must have it. For those who like hard edged, fast, intricate music, this is essential. If you are looking for good melody and catchy hooks, look elsewhere. Supreme musicianship and a fantastic energy drive this recording.

Progosopher | 5/5 |


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