Miles Davis In a Silent Way on Numbered Edition Hybrid SACD
Float Into the Ether: Gorgeous 1969 Experimental Treasure Among the Most Atmospheric Jazz Albums Ever Recorded
Shhh. The command to be quiet is not just part of the title of one of the two sprawling compositions on this pioneering album. Itâ€™s also an apt metaphor for the relaxed hypnotism and spaced-out atmosphere that define In a Silent Way
, a record that pushes the boundaries of studio possibilities, artist-producer relationships, and rock-jazz chasms. Recognized as Miles Davisâ€™ first full-on fusion effort and part of his â€œelectricâ€ era, the 1969 landmark claims a Whoâ€™s Who lineup that sends the music into an ethereal stratosphere.
Part of Mobile Fidelityâ€™s Miles Davis catalog restoration series, In a Silent Way
now immerses the listener in lineolate landscapes starlit by the intuition, suspension, and paradoxes wrought by a once-in-a-lifetime collective. Mastered from the original master tapes, this unsurpassed digital edition lifts the veil on the cutting-edge assembly process that created the pair of lengthy suites. Helmed by three electric instruments, the beveled compositions melt away all preconceived notions of â€œjazz,â€ â€˜rock,â€ and â€œambience,â€ following a loose theory Davis dubbed â€œNew Directions.â€
Few albums are so delicately textured. And on Mobile Fidelityâ€™s meticulous reissue, such sulcate elements pour over ink-black backgrounds on a canyon-wide soundstage. In particular, Tony Williamsâ€™ inventive percussive touchâ€”he causes the cymbals to shimmer as a pieces of silver tend to do when exposed to sunlightâ€”is broadcast with lifelike three-dimensional qualities, the panoramic view extending to Davisâ€™ nocturnal trumpet, Wayne Shorterâ€™s ribbon-unfurling saxophone, Dave Hollandâ€™s extrapolative bass, and the mosaic of keys.
If the recordâ€™s only accomplishment is its introduction of guitarist John McLaughlin to the world, it alone would be enough. Yet In a Silent Way
continues to bedazzle, puzzle, and inspire for myriad reasonsâ€”not the least of which is the seemingly telepathic communicative methods employed by the groupâ€™s members. The lineup is great on paper, but, if itâ€™s even possible, the octet sounds even better in practice, with the instruments and tonalities conjoining in avant-garde communion like hyper-sensitive tentacles exploring the stippled landscapes of an undiscovered planet.
Diverting from expectation, tubular grooves twist, turn, and spin, sometimes piling atop of each other, always shying away from structure and melody. Ellipsoidal solos provide hesitant guidance, ranging from Chick Coreaâ€™s Fender Rhodes phrases to Davisâ€™ decorative spirals. And as color is the primary unit of currency on Davisâ€™ Sketches of Spain, laidback episodes, geometric spaces, and quiet sensuality reign here, with the setâ€™s maverick reputation attained via musings on solitude rather than explosions of noise.
Controversial for the period, the heavily edited production of In a Silent Way
blew open the once-locked doors on what producerâ€™s could attemptâ€”and how artists could assist them. Knitted together as one would construct a cross-hatched quilt, songs contain grafts of repeat passages that provide unifying structure and experimental continuity. What a statement.Miles Davis In a Silent Way Track Listing:
In a Silent Way/Itâ€™s About That Time