Thursday, February 11, 2010

Miles Davis, Agartha (Columbia)

Best to observe how the musicians don't play. Of course, you want them to go off, but there's also joy to be found in watching dudes sit out, especially if dude's the leader. Somewhere somehow someone started a thought: The group began to think it out: Once they started thinking the leader put her/his two cents down and now s/he wants to listen to what the others have to say. How are we going to finish this thought? If I were Machiavelli I'd say that the prince must think the thought over for a while before deciding where the rest should go, how they should follow out to an end. Sitting out: it's not just thinking or listening, but rather listening to one's thoughts on thought itself: A second order of thought entirely.

It's never easy to listen though fusion. As great as some albums are from the 70s, the specters of Rick Wakeman dressed in a goofy rhinestone cape in front of his mellotron or Vangelis biting his lower lip and grooving his excess out never trail far behind. Jaco was great, but by the 781,000th note of his 1,000,000 note solo you can probably feel John Tesh warming up backstage.

Then again, you come back to Miles on Agartha and Pangaea, both recorded on the same date in 1975. The funk is lowdown and heavy, bass, synth, and congas laying down long singular ropes of the neverending line, both guitars hitting their wahwahs like drums, all punctured by occasional shreds of Miles' electric organ or trumpet. Sounds like everyone is playing in their own time signature, and yet wild thick and thorny fields open before you. And the amazing thing is, Miles barely plays! Most of the time he's sitting out.

I don't think we ever found out where that thought went. He laid out for the next six years and never quite came back. Maybe thought's still playing out...

Recommended wine pairing: Now it's 2010, and man I gotta tell you, having sat the last year out I'm still waiting on Miles, watching him listen. That's not easy work, and so you'll need something on your palette that smooths and rolls while you're at it: Johnson Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006.

1 comment:

Paul Kim said...

Lovely inaugural pairing for '10.