You know, I really hate to repeat myself, but recently I've been stumbling onto more and more music that defies easy categorization. Though the ability to affix a label on a chunk of music isn't completely necessary, it does add a little feeling of closure.
In the case of Mysteries Of The Revolution, I'm coming dangerously close to using that most dreaded of reviewer cliché's: sui generis. I won't do it though, partly because it's not entirely true, and partly because if I see that in print one more time, projectile vomiting may ensue.
So here's the deal: this band combines elements of fusion (think Zawinul), modern jam band sensibilities, psychedelia, Blue Note groove, and even a bit of Jethro Tull (I'm not kidding) to create a very fresh take on an area of modern jazz that had been all but abandoned. Drummer/percussionist BB Davis, bassist Mark Smith, and keyboardist Dan Biro present an almost art-rock approach to keyboard-based fusion while avoiding excess and keeping alive a strong sense of groove.
Oh, did I mention the flute? And the beat-boxing? Read on…
The record opens with "Welcome," a big swirl of Brian Wilson-esqe vocals that give way to some massive analog synthy chords (it may not be analog, but it sure has that sound) that vaporize, leaving some short flute passages and falling piano notes to bounce around in the newly abandoned, reverberant space. This leads into the ten minute-plus "The Crunch," which boils at the outset with its descending keyboard lines, drops back into an almost Billy Cobham/Spectrum kind of blues, only to switch gears into a final section that is more rock than jazz. You will turn this up very loud.
There are so many sonic diversions on this record that a complete listing would truly be exhausting. The vibraphonics added to the searching "Romantica" are really a nice touch. The gradual mood progression from pensive to driving on "Have You Seen Enough?" is truly exhilarating. "Moonfrog Tucker" drops us right into the psychedelics of Sun Ra.
Probably the most intriguing piece here is Big Buddah. It's an amazing human beat-box/flute freakout that Davis dedicates to the great Rahsann Roland Kirk. The percussiveness of the flute reminded me of Ian Anderson too — and that would be the first time I've ever thought about both Kirk and Jethro Tull in the same bit of time. Weird and wonderful.
So yes, Mysteries Of The Revolution really do have their own 'thing.' The label is indeed irrelevant as the music provides its own sense of closure.