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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Visions Of The Emerald Beyond CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.89 | 259 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Masters of their craft.

After the blistering start to Mahavishnu Orchestra with the definitive jazz fusion of "The Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds of Fire", it was the next step to add in some funk and alternative styles to the jazziness of the music. The band do that on this album yet retain the jamming improv style and manic time sig changes. John McLaughlin, guitarist extraordinaire, is the only sole survivor of the original lineup but he is joined by the stalwart company of Jean-Luc Ponty's electric violin, the percussion of Michael Walden, Ralph Armstrong's bass, and Gayle Moran's keyboards.

'Eternity's Breath' is a standout for the band especially 'Part 2' with Luc-Ponty's exquisite violin serrations. It also has a heavier guitar than the usual Mahavishnu and from the outset the music signifies a completely different approach. The electric guitars on Part 1 are heavier and the effervescent violin is an amazing embellishment.

'Lila's Dance' is a brilliant piece of music in a number of odd meters from 7/4 to 14/8 and even 5/4 at times. It is an amazing rhythm with searing fret melting lead work and astonishing percussion and violin. Simply stunning.

'Can't Stand Your Funk' is a jazz odyssey in funkadelic guitar rhythms and the odd trumpet blast and very ominous keyboards. The bassline is as funky as it gets embellished by nasty brass.

'Pastoral' begins with birds whistling and the electric violin generates a peaceful atmosphere. 'Faith' is a heavier percussion explosion with ascending violins and an angular guitar riff. 'Cosmic Strut' is another funky jazz piece with odd time sigs throughout that change often. The intro is in 9/8, there is a medial section with a guitar soloing in a 7/4 metrical progression, soon after the music is in 13/8, and at times 27/8. There is no doubting the virtuosity of the band with tracks like this.

'If I Could See' is a short piece with the soprano vocals of Gayle Moran and this is followed by 'Be Happy', a frenetic jazz blitzkrieg. McLaughlin cuts loose on lead gutar on a rhythmic percussive figure.he dynamic jamming and tempo is jaw dropping on this track. Jean Luc-Ponty joins on violin slicing back and forth with speed bow work. The duo trade off solos as in a duel. These two are masters of the craft.

'Earth Ship' has a very soft, gentle musicality with flute and bass over percussion brushes. The guitar is distant and the vocals are sleepy. 'Pegasus' follows as a short transition. 'Opus 1' and 'On The Way Home To Earth' begins with a spacey ambience of Tangerine Dream textures and synth sustain. It moves into a jam session of the fuzz guitar and extraordinary percussion by the lead break is McLaughlin at his best.

This album is a magnificent musical work of virtuosity at its highest level. It proves that the second incarnation of Mahavishnu Orchestra is as good as the original lineup and of course this is always going to be hailed as a masterpiece by many listeners. The music will keep many spellbound with its immeasurable creativity and powerful spirit.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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