Review Summary: The lighting of a fire.
Flourishes of absolute intensity, exuded by a spellbinding union of musical components bounded together by the intimate synergy of its musicians- The Inner Mounting Flame
provides a performance that is truly mesmerizing. The music comes at us with an excessive release of spontaneous energy, induced by boisterous instrumentation and complex musicianship. The album opens with a marvelous overture, "Meeting Of The Spirits"
. This song is a passage through dextrous and innovative musical segments that are embellished with elaborate solos from guitarist and lead composer, John McLaughlin. The backing instruments establish a rhythmic landscape for John McLaughlin to work from, allowing him to erupt with a barrage of solos that are coordinated with such adroit musicianship.
Of course, John McLaughlin's guitar work may be the centerpiece of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, but the other musicians provide an equally captivating performance. Jerry Goodman's violin arrangements effectively compliment John McLaughlin's guitar work, with both instruments collaborating at a level that is truly incendiary. But I must also mention Billy Cobham's drumming. He always provides such innovative percussive rhythms, eruptively dynamic, yet orchestrated with such effective prowess. As I said before, The Inner Mounting Flame is fueled by ebullient performances. "Vital Transformation"
and "The Noonward Race"
, for example, are driven by an overabundance of hyperactive instrumentation. "Vital Transformation"
, in particular, is yet another highlight from the album. Everybody is just on fire in this one, especially John McLaughlin and Jerry Goodman, who are bombarding our senses with grandiose solos.
As we venture further into the album's content, voyaging through all of the aggression and spasticity, we are surprised to discover a gentler side. "A Lotus On Irish Streams"
serves as a lovely interlude that takes us away from Jazz music all together, leaving us to lose ourselves in the delicacy of this beautiful acoustic ballad. "Dawn"
is another much more mellifluous piece, but has a much more abstract orchestration. It opens with a very relaxing tempo before blossoming into a more elevated, yet restrained, climax. The Inner Mounting Flame is a classic, and a defining album in Jazz Fusion. One of the interesting aspects of the album is that it features no wind instruments, a rather unusual quality for a Jazz album, but because of its more rock-oriented sound it has also proven to be influential in several other genres outside of Jazz music. The Inner Mounting Flame is landmark effort and a template for all future musical acts aspiring to venture into Jazz Fusion.