Weather Report
Mysterious Traveller


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
August 20th, 2012 | 16 replies | 2,084 views


Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Weather Report continue to incorporate funk and world music styles into their sound, while occasionally diverting back to their more experimental roots.

The Weather Report is a group of musicians that are obsessed with evolving. Their music often expresses a yearning to explore what is unknown, even if that means searching beyond the Jazz world for inspiration. In their first two albums, Weather Report and I Sing The Body Electric, we found the group embracing a more experimental sound as they surpassed the boundaries of traditional Jazz Fusion to introduce a more abstract and improvisatory approach to the genre. Often intellectual and innovative in nature, their music felt more like an enigma left for us to decipher rather than an enjoyable listening experience. Sweetnighter, on the other hand, provided exactly what we had been patiently anticipating for- a sound that emphasized more on conventional rhythmic grooves rather than elaborate displays of musicianship. No overly complex instrumental passages, just a gratifyingly jubilant performance.

Mysterious Traveller serves as a reflection of everything that we have experienced in the previous three albums. The Weather Report continue to incorporate Funk elements into their typical Jazz routine, but we also see the band regressing into the ambient textures of their earlier efforts. "Nubian Sundance" takes us into a very lively environment, and is one of the very few compositions in the group's career to feature singing. This is a very exciting jam because we really get to see some of The Weather Report's signature idiosyncratic approaches. The rhythm of the drums establish an accelerated pace for the rest of the group to follow. Keyboardist Josef Zawinul then sets out to explore some decorative melodies to contribute to the music, adding both harmonious notes as well as elaborate sonic textures. A singing choir fades in and out throughout the performance, narrating in African tongues so as to add to the exotic vibe of the song. Wayne Shorter occasionally surfaces into our attention with some wind notes, but for the most part, "Nubian Sundance" is dominated by ostentatious keyboard and synthesizer arrangements along with some dynamic tribalistic percussion.

"Cucumber Slumber" is perhaps the main highlight of the album. It is very reminiscent of the funkier style of Sweetnighter, making it one of the most accessible and highly enjoyable songs in the album. The alluring basslines of Alphonso Johnson set up the rhythmic framework of the music and the other instruments begin to add their own solo melodies into the mix. "Cucumber Slumber" perfectly exemplifies the groove-oriented approach that The Weather Report has been striving to achieve since their first encounter with Funk music. This song could certainly be seen as the template that the band would follow in subsequent efforts, completely abandoning their original progressive style for a sound that is more instant. The eponymous track, "Mysterious Traveller", is another much more conventional piece, but tends to lean closer to the cosmic soundscapes of Progressive rock than Funk. "Mysterious Traveller" is a really captivating listen because it has its foot on every territory that The Weather Report has previously ventured in, providing a really mesmerizing musical brew.

The latter portion of the album is much more timid than the dynamic styles of its commencement. "Blackthorn Rose" even features an all acoustic orchestration, an approach that we've never really heard before by the group. Josef Zawinul and Wayne Shorter thematically direct the song with their piano and saxophone compositions, allowing their intuitive synergy to really shine. Wayne Shorter's solos especially are truly charismatic, but in a very understated fashion. He tends to sort of venture into his own agenda, and erupting with delicate solos to induce a calming environment. There is no real framework that is established in this song, allowing the music a sense of freedom to roam wherever it pleases. The closing piece, "Jungle Book", is the most innovative song on the album. It is another to feature African singing, but it also incorporates other eastern influences such as the Indian Tambura and tribalistic percussive exercises near the end. This growing interest in World music proves as yet another musical aspect that will be explored with much more intrigue in the upcoming albums. Mysterious Traveller is often considered to be one of The Weather Report's best efforts to date, and it certainly has its moments of enthralling musicianship that help it live up to that reputation. But what makes this album really enjoyable is that it has something to offer for every fan, as it amalgamates all of the different styles of the past albums with some newfound influences. Mysterious Traveller is sophisticated, innovative, and inspired. It's an album that isn't afraid of leaving its comfort zone to explore new possibilities, while still managing to sound organic and relatively accessible.



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user ratings (30)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2012



4339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Its been a while since I've done The Weather Report. I decided to review this really quickly before focusing on other stuff.

YoYoMancuso
August 19th 2012



10131 Comments


YES been waiting for this review. very nice and in-depth, "Cucumber Slumber" is probably one of their best funk tracks, haven't heard the whole thing though. have a pos

Digging: The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2012



4339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, Jack. Glad you're enjoying the album.

tommygun
August 19th 2012



21345 Comments


Really good review, mate. Pos as per usual. These guys are on my list to check out too. Which album is best to start with?

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2012



4339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks, Tommy. I'd say Sweetnighter or Heavy Weather. Both have a really cool Jazz-Funk vibe. I'm certain you'd really like these guys.

Maniac!
August 19th 2012



26187 Comments


You listen to some good shit.

tommygun
August 19th 2012



21345 Comments


Sweet, thanks buddy. I will get to them in the next few weeks once I can tear myself away from the new Bloc Party and John Frusciante records. Have you heard Omar's latest? I think it's called 'Octopus Kool-Aid' or some weird name like that

mindleviticus
August 19th 2012



7939 Comments


:D Weather Report!

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2012



4339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Maniac!
Thanks, you've got quite a taste yourself.

@Tommy
No worries, mate. Ive been spinning Frusciante's lastest EP lately myself, I cant wait for the album next month its gonna rule. I've heard a little bit of Octopus Kool-Aid and its pretty decent, though nothing new. Im going to review some time soon.

tommygun
August 20th 2012



21345 Comments


Yeah man PBX is gonna be crazy, I'm super excited for it! Omar has such a large discography it's somewhat intimidating - I was waiting to see what your verdict (as Sputnik's resident authority on all things ORL) is on Octopus Kool-Aid before checking it out.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 20th 2012



4339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, thanks Tommy. I say its worth checking out on Bandcamp, Its got some good songs on it. But Omar has already released 2
other electronica-based albums this year and maybe thats why I wasnt too "wow'd" by it. I give it a solid 3-3.5 though.

its good just doesnt offer anything new

CaptainDooRight
August 20th 2012



26438 Comments


Good job for really quickly, Pos'd

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

Gyromania
August 20th 2012



14652 Comments


good shit, mate. pos.

ThrashTillDeath94
August 20th 2012



564 Comments


Great review brother, keep it up! Pos'd

Digging: Opeth - Still Life

ZedO
August 20th 2012



1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn great stuff mate, and nice reads as always, pos

Jethro42
August 20th 2012



12036 Comments


Nice to see some love for Weather Report.



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