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Miles Davis - Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974 CD (album) cover

PANTHALASSA: THE MUSIC OF MILES DAVIS 1969-1974

Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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js (Easy Money)
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3 stars Panthalassa is an album of Miles' mid-70s tunes remixed by Bill Laswell. Taken on it's own merits this CD is a decent blend of 70s progressive psychedelic jazz-funk and 90s trip-hop and is a lot like other Laswell albums from this period. The big question for Miles fans though is did Bill help these tunes or hurt them with his remixes? The answer is a resounding yes and no, sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

This album was hated by many Miles fans before they even heard it. How dare the gadflyish Laswell exhume Miles' sacred music and give it his sometimes generic ambient trip-hop/non-authentic world beat wallpaper music for the urban hip type production. To Laswell's credit this album is far from a disaster, but the better cuts tend to be the ones he alters the least. On the songs Rated X and Billy Preston Laswell dives into Miles' original futuristic trip with Stockhausen into the heart of Africa and is able to sort out the dense textures and better define what is going on. Every instrument on these two songs stands out clearly, unlike the original muddy mixes on the album Get Up With It. Likewise the quirky Black Satin with it's devilishly happy whistle tune and weird Sly Stone with one shoe nailed to the floor avant-funk beat that get's stuck in circles also sounds much clearer as well. The added dub rhythm drops on this tune also sound great.

On the more negative tip, Laswell's Agharta Prelude Dub takes a bit of the original god-like astral jazz- funk from Agharta and reduces it to a trendy loopish bit of trip-hop fluff. Much less offensive is his remix of the classic In a Silent Way, which is more or less preserved as it was except the bass is turned up to booming dub style levels. The remix of Miles' beautiful ambient proto trip-hop masterpiece, He Loved Him Madly, is not particularly great either. Once again the bass is boosted to modern levels which seems to upset this song's previous peaceful balance. Bill also goes too much out of his way on this one to add some of his own ambient industrial drone noise. Overall the original version of this song was focused and hypnotic in a way that Bill can't reproduce because he is trying to hard to make the song more modern and trendy.

If you like jazzy progressive 90s trip-hop, it probably doesn't get much better than this, but if you are looking for improvements over the original Miles tunes, Bill came close but didn't quite hit the mark.

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Posted Monday, September 01, 2008 | Review Permalink

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