Billy Cobham
Spectrum


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
April 1st, 2012 | 74 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Billy Cobham goes solo.

It's almost impossible to even begin discussing the genre of Jazz Fusion without mentioning the one artist that was practically responsible for the genre's fruition. I am of course referring to the sorcerer himself, Miles Davis. After releasing Nefertiti, his final album composed under an all acoustic orchestration, Miles Davis began to experiment with electric instruments to create a whole new sound. An idea that was perhaps a reflection of the time, as we begun to see rock music eclipsing Jazz in both popularity and sales. It all started with Miles In The Sky, but we didn't really see the fusion of Jazz and Rock becoming fully conscious until the latter albums like Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way. The music in these albums is very abstract, amalgamating the expansive and cosmic nature of Psychedelic rock with the enthusiasm for soloistic improvisations found in Jazz. Miles Davis would bequeath this brand new concept to his soul brothers; John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham, who also worked with him in several releases including one of his most famous albums, A Tribute To Jack Johnson. An experience that would later develop into friendship and the formation of The Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Spectrum is Billy Cobham's solo debut as a composer and he takes us through some rather familiar territory. The album is very reminiscent of both his past work with Miles Davis, though obviously much closer to the overly vigorous depiction of Jazz Fusion that The Mahavishnu Orchestra is renowned for. "Quadrant 4" starts off the album on a high note. Immediately, without hesitation or restrain, the music erupts with the passionate dexterity of it's musicians. Tommy Bolin and Billy Cobham have developed quite the synergy during the recording sessions, and it can be easily perceived by this performance alone. Billy Cobham sets up the rhythm with his frantic-paced drumming as Tommy Bolin bombards the listener with a barrage of guitar notes. And it isn't long until Spectrum has us descending into realms of psychedelia. Though the psychedelic influence are only mild in this piece, there are numerous guitar effects and synthesizer decorations throughout Spectrum that are very reflective of Miles' electric period, but even more reminiscent of Progressive rock. A lot of the content in this album seems to go back-and-forth between extensive solo work and quasi-spacial atmospheres. For example, the album's concluding section, "Snoopy's Search" and "Red Baron", begins with a moog synthesizer that induces a cosmic sound before descending into a more familiar Jazz orchestration.

The mood of this album is very versatile, containing moments of both delicacy and aggressiveness. "Stratus" is perhaps the album's highlight. The composition projects itself as a mellow track, emphasizing a Funk influenced groove but there are moments of elevation when Tommy Bolin's eruption of flourishing guitar arrangements completely take over. "Searching For The Right Door" is another exciting track but it induces a more jazzy vibe, due to the dominance the brass sections have over the other instruments. The compositions with a more relaxed tempo tend to favor a more Jazz influenced sound rather than Rock, "Le Lis" is an example of this. It begins with a piano solo referred to as "To The Women In My Life", and it's a fitting name because the music reflects a romantic tone. But as the intro fades, we find ourselves within a gentle realm. "Le Lis" has such a smooth texture with an almost Salsa-like rhythm that gives it a feeling of looseness, almost encouraging the listener to dance to it's melody. Spectrum is a truly enjoyable album, and one I recommend to any admirer of Jazz Fusion. The musicianship in this album is intense, every member has truly developed a sensational synergy during the recording sessions. This is definitely one for any fan of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, as its sound will be sure to keep you intrigued right to the very end.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
KILL
March 31st 2012


71981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

awesome album nice review

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2012


4445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@KILL
Thanks, man, it really is a good album.
On a side note, I find that Sputnik really lags sometimes... does anyone else experience that or is it just me?

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2012


50703 Comments


Bill Cosby
http://turntable.fm/sammy_davis_jr
I'm playing Kate

Digging: The Smith Street Band - Throw Me in the River

VlacDrac
March 31st 2012


837 Comments


Thanks for writing this review, well written as always.
Pos'd

MO
March 31st 2012


18897 Comments


my buddy showed me Stratus which was really chill, been meaning to check out the album

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2012


4445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@VlacDrac
no problem, it was my pleasure you have great taste in music!

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2012


4445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@MetallicOpeth
Yeah its a good song, you should also check out Massive Attack's Safe From Harm. they use it as a sample its awesome.

MO
April 1st 2012


18897 Comments


thats actually why he showed me the tune, the resemblance is uncanny

CaptainDooRight
April 1st 2012


30059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This looks really interesting, review owns bro, pos hard, gonna check now

Digging: Fleurety - Min Tid Skal Komme

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2012


4445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@MetallicOpeth
That's how I discovered this album too, I'm a big Massive Attack fan.

CaptainDooRight
April 1st 2012


30059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

one critic

""Quadrant 4" starts us off the album on a high note."

not sure if this was the wording you wanted.

other than that flawless bro, jamming stratus right now and omg why have I never heard this before, this gold, PURE GOLD

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2012


4445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ CaptainDooRight
Oh thanks, man. I didnt catch that typo. I'll fix it right away. Thank you.

CaptainDooRight
April 1st 2012


30059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Did you happen to hear "The Art Of Three"

if so, was it as good as this?

CaptainDooRight
April 1st 2012


30059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also bro I've never seen this!!

he's using 4 drum sticks at once, am I high?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W64Mio7MvZ0&feature=related

TomBrady12
April 1st 2012


6 Comments


yeah hes good

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2012


4445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@CaptainDooRight
I havent heard "The Art of Three", but I will check it out. And yeah ive seen this video before, he's a got a really complex style. one of my favourite drummers.

CaptainDooRight
April 1st 2012


30059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The set of melodic jazz riffs to the closing of Stratus is better than anything in flames has ever done. weird comparison i know but jus sayin

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2012


4445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@CaptainDooRight
Hey, I like In Flames, theyre pretty good in my opinion. But yeah the guitarist in this album, Tommy Bolin is really
talented. he played with Deep Purple for a while.

CaptainDooRight
April 1st 2012


30059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha yeah so do I, I'm not raggin on early in flames, but rather giving the praise this album deserves. easily a 4

damn not you got me on a gnarly jazz crave now

Jethro42
April 1st 2012


12494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haven't listen to this in ages. Billy Cobham is a beast on drums. He needed to break out from Mahavishnu Orchestra during their heydays cos he felt restraint into the band's framework.
Spectrum showed what he was really capable of even if he was already on top of his game with MO. He was so much in fire while drumming that he permanently needed an extinguisher behind his drum kit. Pos'd



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