Review Summary: Psychedelic Herbie
Herbie Hancock recorded this album in 1970, in the early days of the jazz fusion movement, and was still transitioning from post bop and avant-garde jazz to fusion. The first thing he did was use electronic instruments and experiment with the jazz song format.
This is the first album with the Mwandishi Sextant (the others being Crossings and Sextant), the more experimental group that Herbie ever assembled, where every member had a Swahili name attributed to them (Mwandishi was Herbie's name).
The album has 3 very different tracks, that as a whole function very well as an album. The first one Ostinato (Suite for Angela), is composed by an ostinato (riff for the rockers) in 15/8 time signature, and the whole band builds upon that continuous and hypnotic riff , with improvisation and dynamic changes. It's a good song, but for the listener who isn't looking for nuances this becomes a very repetitive song.
The next to songs are in no way repetitive, You'll Know When I Get There is almost a ballad in the normal sense of the word, although it has tension in it, it's quite smooth and calm, if we compare with the other two songs. Wandering Spirit Song is an almost free jazz song, that as so much tension, that the listener tries to gasp air in the release moments, it's really intense, and not suited to everyone (atonality everywhere).
In conclusion, the album is a solid one, experimental, full of nice ideas and the players weren't afraid to take risks, which makes every second of this album a surprise. Although this album is more suited for listeners who like to be challenged, because this is quite psychedelic for the normal jazz listener.
This is a mystical album, and should be listened as such.