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Miles Davis - In a Silent Way CD (album) cover

IN A SILENT WAY

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.38 | 419 ratings

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thehallway
Prog Reviewer
3 stars There's not enough to explore.

This album, Miles' first fusion one (and perhaps Jazz's first fusion one), has a very calm, peaceful feel to it. It's still highly rhythmic, but dynamically subdued and lacking in any explosive or heavy moments. This is actually hinted to in the titles of the two pieces. But that isn't the bad thing about it; I love the mood that Miles' band creates here. The problem for me is that there just isn't much material on the record, and very little variation on the few themes that are there.

Borrowing from the ABA or 'Sonata' structure of a typical Classical symphony, the pieces on 'In a Silent Way' have a friendly and accessible construction. However, the reprise of the first section, in both cases, isn't actually a reprise, but the EXACT same music simply repeated. I don't expect a "copy and paste" mentality from an album that pre-dates computers! This means that one quarter of the album is exactly the same one another quarter. Hence, there aren't many listenings you can handle before you get bored. I think the music itself is pleasant enough, but it's minimalistic (for example, the section entitled "Shhh" consists of a two-note bass ostinato and pure improvisation from the rest of the band). Minimalistic music is great when there's lots of it, but there isn't lots of this, and in any case, there isn't any development on it.

My favourite part is 'It's About That Time', which is very groovy and the most upbeat moment on the album. Because of this, and the more free nature of the 'In a Silent Way' intro/outro, the title track definitely works better than 'Shhh/ Peaceful'. The former song's two parts are almost indistinguishable, despite being quite good independently. I think the second piece has more to offer, and every band member has a significant role to play.

Miles Davis has always been 'variable' to my ears. Sometimes he is a genius, sometimes I can find him to be awful. 'In a Silent Way' is neither. It is culturally significant in terms of Jazz Fusion, and it is somewhat restrained (although this making it beautiful at times). It is also quite literally, repetitive. Ultimately, we cannot ignore that the album is a certain milestone. However (and here I shall do what Miles did and copy and paste my original theme).......

There's not enough to explore.

thehallway | 3/5 |

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