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Miles Davis - Dark Magus CD (album) cover

DARK MAGUS

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.58 | 44 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Jazz purists really hated Miles Davis at this point and by listening to this live album you can kind of see why: there is almost nothing here that could be considered "jazz." Instead, this is rocking, with an almost punk intensity at times. It is also very funky with lots of wah-wah and percussion. The music is similar to both On The Corner and Pangaea/Agartha. In fact this has almost the exact same line-up as Pangaea/Agartha. There are two saxophonists and three (!) guitarists who sometimes get in each others way, but the sloppy feel just makes this music even better and spontaneous.

Recorded at a concert in Carnegie Hall in 1974, I don't hear any of the splicing and editing that appears on most of Miles' 70s records, even the live ones. Supposedly, Miles hated the sound of his trumpet here, which is loud and clear and in your face. Miles himself plays some organ and one of the guitarists screws around with a synthesizer, but most of the time it sounds more like a drum machine. There are four titles, each diveded in two, named after the Swahili words for "one", "two", "three" and "four." Some of the tracks are side- long.

"Moja (Part One)" has drums leading the full band into a crazy wah-wah attack that sounds like a rabid dog from Mars is trying to chase you. Love Miles' hypnotic, repeated trumpet notes. Features some blistering guitar soloing after 8 minutes. Avant-jazzy psych funk-punk at it's best. "Moja (Part 2)" starts to chill out after the frenzy of Part One. Before long you get some skronking sax work. More blistering guitar soloing and some synth for the first time. Miles solos near the end as the percussion increases in intensity.

"Wili (Part One)" opens with a laid-back funk groove, similar to what Herbie Hancock was doing at the same time. Miles plays some wah-organ as the cowbell goes to town. More eerie wah-organ and blistering guitar soloing later. "Wili (Part Two)" is more laid-back funk grooving, but with great sax soloing. Gets more mellow as it goes along. "Tatu (Part One)" is the standout track to me. Spacey funk-rock at it's finest. Features more great effect- enhanced guitar playing. The bass playing stands out here. The music dies down a little and then gets more intense with a great repeated melody on organ. Gets even more intense with the guitar playing and constant cowbell.

"Tatu (Part Two)" begins with more organ. It mellows out and grooves for awhile. "Nne (Part One)" starts off very random sounding with drum machine type sounds. Probably the most spacey and avant-garde track on the album. The bass sounds great here. The music stops halfway and then some guitar soloing. Gets more random sounding again towards the end. "Nne (Part Two)" is, next to "Moja (Part One)," is the most manic and crazy track, although it starts out very subdued. Once the drums kick in you're in for a wild funky ride. Great sax playing here and great guitar sounds as well. Just before 6 minutes is a drum beat that I would be surprised if it has not been sampled yet. Gets more percussion oriented towards the end.

This is my favourite of Miles' live albums, similar to Pangaea/Agartha but more experimental and interesting. As I said earlier, there is very little "jazz" music here. This is some seriously gritty and raw psychedelic funk rock. I could see fans of Krautrock enjoying this. Had Miles not semi-retired in the mid-70s, I think he would have moved away from this sound anyway; this sounds great for something recorded in 1974, but it would sound out of place even for 1977. A solid live album. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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