Adam Holzman, Rob Irving III, Pandit Brij Narain - “In a Silent Way (Intro)” (from Miles From India)

At first, the title of Miles Davis’s 1969 album In a Silent Way perplexed me. The idea that an aural medium (recorded instruments playing melodies and harmonies) can portray, or even hint at, silence seems a contradiction in levels of perception. One listen to the record and it’s apparent that Davis and his celebrated Sixties-era band weren’t exactly reaching for John Cage’s 4’33’’. Starting off with a gentle electric piano/organ theme composed by Joe Zawinul, the music was the first of Miles Davis’s electric records, just as much rock and roll as it was jazz.

Adam Holzman, Rob Irving III and Pandit Brij Narain boil down this lovely theme to its essence, performing the melody on a single sitar in half the running time of the original. The result is a piece of music that emphasizes silence as much as it does musical expression, where pauses and the echoing rings of fading sitar strings contribute to the expansion of sonic space via sound existing in no-sound. 

1,223,552 stars out of 2,556,854 stars.
The Admirations - “Don’t Leave Me” (from Soul With a Hole, Volume 1)

Speaking of sounds emerging and existing in a singular void, the Admirations R’n’B recording of “Don’t Leave” from the album compilation Soul With a Hole Volume 1, kicks off with a drum roll that seems to belong to another song altogether (and is weirdly reminiscent of Bjork’s 1993 hit “Human Behavior”). And just as it begins from nowhere, as a continuation of a thought without specific origin, it ends as it must, returning from the void whence it came (the particular recording I have cuts off the vocals and instruments with a jarring transition to the next track on my itunes). Other than that, it is a fairly conventional pop/R’n’B song with a lead singer who reminds me of a young Bob Marley. 

9,765 stars out of 15,435 stars.
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The African Brothers International Band - “Wompe Masem” (from Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds and Ghanian Blues, 1968-1981)

The track kicks off with a drum beat of the marching band order, though its insistence is loose rather than rigid. Soon layers of polyrhythms build instrument by instrument: congas and other unidentified bits of percussion, organ, and the behind-the-beat phrasing of a wah-wah rock guitar. The ideal song to start a day with, whether that day includes going through emails at your desk or getting busy with your woman.

3,457,765 stars out of 4,001,428 stars.
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